QUITO/GUAYAQUIL (Reuters) -Business heir Daniel Noboa is Ecuador’s next president, declaring victory on Sunday as the country’s national electoral council said results pointed to an “irreversible” outcome and his rival conceded.
Noboa was tallying more than 52% of the vote, while his leftist adversary Luisa Gonzalez had about 48%, with more than 90% of ballot boxes counted.
Thirty five-year-old Noboa, a surprise qualifier for the run-off in the early election, has pledged to improve the economy and create jobs for young people, as well as to house dangerous criminals on prison ships.
“Tomorrow we start work for this new Ecuador, we start working to rebuild a country seriously battered by violence, by corruption and by hate,” Noboa told supporters in the seaside town of Olon after clinching victory in a campaign marred by the murder of anti-corruption candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
“From tomorrow Daniel Noboa starts work as your new president,” he added.
His victory fulfills a long-held family ambition – he grew up accompanying his banana baron father Alvaro during the latter’s multiple failed attempts to become president.
Gonzalez congratulated Noboa on his victory.
“Daniel Noboa, our profound congratulations, because this is democracy,” Gonzalez told supporters in Quito, calling on Noboa to fulfill his promises to students and the elderly.
Noboa will face the significant challenge of righting an economy – which has struggled since the coronavirus pandemic and motivated many thousands of Ecuadoreans to migrate – and sharply rising crime, including increases in murders, robberies and prison riots.
Noboa will have just 14 months to govern, serving a truncated term from December this year until May 2025.
Re-election is generally not allowed in Ecuador, but the special election means Noboa would be able to run again in the regularly-scheduled 2025 contest.
Noboa’s win marks a rebuke by voters of Gonzalez’s mentor, former President Rafael Correa, who has continued to wield considerable political power since he left office, despite a corruption conviction.
Gonzalez had pledged to bring back many of Correa’s social programs, boost the economy with international reserves and fight crime.
Noboa supporters celebrated in the streets of Guayaquil as final vote tallies came in.
“We need new blood and not the old politics that have done us so much harm,” said student Eduardo Chavez, 23. “Our president should waste no time and work very hard to put the brakes on insecurity.”