Ecuador on Sunday elected a conservative former banker and supporter of free-market policies as president over his populist opponent, setting the country on a pro-business path.
Guillermo Lasso, 65 years old, received over 52% of the vote to clinch the presidency, his third attempt at running for office. He defeated Andrés Arauz, a 36-year-old leftist economist and protégé of powerful ex-president Rafael Correa. Mr. Arauz conceded with more than 95% of votes counted.
Mr. Lasso will inherit a bruised economy and health crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic rages across South America. From Brazil to Peru and Chile, hospitals are being pushed to the brink as infections surge to record levels, crimping hopes for an economic rebound.
“For years, I’ve dreamed about the possibility of serving Ecuadoreans, so the country progresses. Today, you’ve made that possible,” Mr. Lasso said to cheering supporters. “We’ll build a more just country, with more prosperity for everyone.”
While voters in Ecuador chose a right-wing candidate, in the first round of presidential voting in neighboring Peru voters appeared to go to the far left. An Ipsos exit poll showed presidential candidate Pedro Castillo, a socialist who favors undoing three decades of market-friendly policies, leading a field of 17 other candidates. Peru will hold a second round vote in June between the top two finishers.