Presidential election in Ecuador

Huge number of null votes is as clear sign of protest and a wake-up call from the indigenous population (Press Release)

As stated by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen, Equador's newly elected President Guillermo Lasso is widely rejected by the country's indigenous people. "According to the National Electoral Council, a total number of 1,705,251 votes (16.34 percent) were null votes," stated Regina Sonk, the STP's expert on indigenous peoples, in Göttingen on Monday. "This is a strong message and a wake-up call from the indigenous population to election winner Lasso and his opponent, economist Andrés Arauz. Ecuador's indigenous people will remain a strong opposition to the government." There have never been so many null votes in a presidential election. Indigenous movements in Ecuador consider this historic result a success of their opposition to the two presidential candidates.

In the run up to the elections, the indigenous umbrella organization CONAIE had initiated a null vote campaign after consulting regional and local indigenous organizations. When CONAIE President Jaime Vargas declared his support for candidate Arauz at short notice before the election, he was met with harsh criticism. A large number of leading CONAIE members had emphasized that neither Lasso nor Arauz were acceptable presidents, as both of them announced plans to cut down on indigenous rights.

In Ecuador, elections are compulsory. As Lasso is an ex-banker, a staunch opponent of abortions, and a member of Opus Dei, his government is viewed with great concern, especially by indigenous people. The liberal politician wants to open up his country to international investors even more, especially in the raw materials sector. The indigenous communities fear that Lasso will grant concessions to international companies, especially in their settlement areas. The indigenous presidential candidate Yaku Pérez narrowly missed the runoff in the first round of voting. While he was considered the runner-up in the first days after the election, his lead over the third-place finisher Lasso melted away as the ballots were counted, and he was eventually overtaken by only about 1,000 votes. There are reports of inconsistencies in the counting of ballots.