Number of the week

South America’s electoral “Super Sunday”

Three South American nations head to the polls on Sunday. Here's what you need to know about electoral cycles in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia

electoral March for Democracy in Quito, Ecuador (Feb. 23, 2021). Photo: Vincent Ricci/Shutterstock
March for Democracy in Quito, Ecuador (Feb. 23, 2021). Photo: Vincent Ricci/Shutterstock

Welcome to “Number of the Week,” where we choose a single figure that helps understand what is going on in Brazil and Latin America. This week’s number explains what to look out for ahead of the region’s electoral “Super Sunday”:

3countries
head to the polls

On April 11, three Andean countries will head to the polls. Citizens from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia will elect candidates at the presidential, congressional, and municipal levels. While political conditions differ between the countries, there are similar elements uniting the three electoral cycles — namely voter distrust and the prospect for future instability.

Peru: a chance for calm?

Arequipa, Peru. Former President Martín Vizcarra campaigns for a seat in Congress. Photo: Edson Flores Silloca/Shutterstock
Arequipa, Peru. Former President Martín Vizcarra campaigns for a seat in Congress. Photo: Edson Flores Silloca/Shutterstock

18 presidential hopefuls. Voters will take part in a first-round presidential election, while also choosing two vice presidents, 130 lawmakers, and five members of the Andean Parliament.

Almost 30 percent of Peruvians still don’t know who they will vote for tomorrow. According to Ipsos, the five best-polling candidates do not even crack the 10-percent ceiling — and which two will progress to a runoff vote is anyone’s guess.

“The winner, regardless of who it is, will inherit a deeply-divided country,” Peruvian political scientist Denisse Rodriguez-Olivari, a researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin, tells The Brazilian Report.

The favorite (of sorts). The best-positioned candidate at the moment is 62-year-old Yohny Lescano, who combines a socially conservative agenda with economic populist proposals. While he is projected to beat all potential competitors in a second-round vote, he might not even make it past the first.

Representativity. Congressional candidate Gahela Cari Contreras, 28, wants to make history as the first trans person to win a seat in the Peruvian parliament. Trans people in Peru have a life expectancy of only 30 years, as 70 percent are forced to resort to prostitution to earn a living.

Ecuador: another electoral nail-biter

South America electoral Super Sunday
Conservative banker Guillermo Lasso is polling behind in Ecuador, but the race remains too close to call. Photo: Vincent Ricci/Shutterstock

Left-leaning economist Andrés Arauz hopes to defeat conservative banker Guillermo Lasso in Sunday’s second-round vote. Mr. Arauz began the campaign streets ahead, but major pollsters say the race is now too close to call.

Early voting. A group of over 8,307 prisoners awaiting trial began early voting on April 8. The entire electorate comprises 13 million people.

The indigenous vote. Indigenous leader Yaku Pérez came close to reaching the second round, but was narrowly beaten by Mr. Lasso. His supporters called the results “fraud,” and many indigenous groups called for a boycott of Sunday’s election. 

  • But the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) — one of the country’s most important indigenous associations — declared its support for Mr. Arauz, much to Mr. Pérez’s chagrin.

Slow count. In order to save USD 41,000, electoral authorities opted against using a fast-counting system that allows voters to follow the results in real-time. The electoral courts said people will have to “wait for the final outcome.”

Bolivia: how strong is MAS?

Protests in El Alto, Bolivia. Photo: Radoslaw Czajkowski/Shutterstock
Protests in El Alto, Bolivia. Photo: Radoslaw Czajkowski/Shutterstock

Bolivia will hold the second round of its regional elections, which began on March 7. Voters will choose a total of 96 mayors, 2,008 city councilors, and four governors.

There are important matters at stake. Results in four out of nine Bolivian departments will determine how much power the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party will have — as governors enjoy a significant level of autonomy.

  • MAS won 240 of 336 mayoral positions up for grabs in the previous vote, but struggles in major centers.

Departments. In the first round, the ruling party won in three different departments. In another four, however, the competition will be decided on Sunday. This is no easy task, as multiple MAS-supporting groups have migrated to dissident movements, which is the case in the capital department of La Paz.