Ecuador has elected conservative businessman Guillermo Lasso as president, ending a decade-long reign of socialists in an election held amid the rising coronavirus pandemic.
The result has surprised analysts because the electoral campaign had pitted free-market economics against social welfare plans set out by Andres Arauz, a protege of former President Rafael Correa, who is currently hiding in Belgium having been sentenced to imprisonment over kidnapping charges.
“We will work together from now on for a true change,” Lasso wrote on Twitter. “Today we woke up in peace and with the certainty that better days are coming for everyone.”
Lasso has to make friends in the opposition benches as his party has no majority on the floor of the parliament. Analysts say Lasso may find it extremely difficult to implement his economic reforms.
Arauz has conceded defeat and promised to support the new administration for the larger benefit of Ecuador.
The South American country has been reeling from the effects of the pandemic, with its economy slipping deeper into a debt trap. Its debt to GDP ratio has now jumped to 63%, as the economy contracted more than 7%.
Ecuador has lost nearly 18,000 people to coronavirus since the pandemic broke out in March last year. Its hospitals are still stretched to their limits, while the country is struggling to secure vaccines in the international market.