News Analysis: Moreno wins Ecuadorian presidency with focus on social welfare

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-05 13:08:11|Editor: Yamei
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QUITO, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorian President-elect Lenin Moreno won the presidency with a pledge to deepen social welfare programs initiated by his predecessor Rafael Correa, experts said on Tuesday.

"In reality, voters opted for the continuation of the progress made in the past 10 years in health, education and social security," political scientist Katalina Barreiro told Xinhua.

"Moreno has also been clear about looking at these three areas with an eye to making changes. For example, he has proposed promoting technical education to allow the creation of productive specialties," said Barreiro.

In the decade since Correa came to power, "there has been substantial access to certain services that the population consider to be gains they do not want to risk losing," she added.

According to sociologist Carol Murillo, Moreno is aware of "the political lifelines" that kept Correa in office, and "he knows that from here on, his job is to deepen the concept and the practice of social and political policies for everyone."

On Tuesday, Ecuador's electoral body officially announced Moreno won Sunday's presidential runoff with 51.16 percent of the votes, with 48.84 percent for his conservative rival Guillermo Lasso.

Following his victory, Moreno, 64, said he will continue the left-leaning "Citizens' Revolution" launched by Correa and his ruling PAIS Alliance, and he also promised to head a government open to dialogue and seeking consensus.

"Without doubt, there are going to be changes, but changes for the better," said Moreno.

While Moreno ran on a clear platform of pursuing social progress, Lasso's campaign lacked a social program, said journalist and academic Fernando Casado.

"Lasso was affected by his condition as a former banker, of his ties to the bank bailout (of 1999) and his alignment with politicians identified with the so-called 'partyocracy'," said Casado.

Moreno was also buoyed by the fact that he nearly won the first-round vote on Feb. 19, falling just shy of the 40 percent of the votes, with a 10-point advantage, which he needed to forego a second round, said Casado, who teaches at the National Institute for Higher Learning.

In the first round, Moreno garnered 39.36 percent of the votes to Lasso's 28.09 percent, and going in to the runoff, all the polls gave him a decisive lead.

"There is going to be a continuation of the goals outlined by the Citizens' Revolution," said Casado, with Moreno striving "to improve everything that has been done so far."

Ecuador has already made headway in raising educational and healthcare standards, but still needs to bolster infrastructure, said Casado.

To that end, "one of (Moreno's) electoral promises has to do with building housing for the poorest," he added.

Moreno also aims to strengthen agriculture through increased credit lines, eradicate infant malnutrition and improve life for the elderly.

The analysts agreed that Moreno will differentiate himself from the outspoken Correa not in policy, but in a softer, less confrontational approach.

"They have two very different personalities," said Casado, adding "Moreno is more inclined to dialogue."

Defense Minister Ricardo Patino, an influential figure within the PAIS Alliance, said Moreno's win was both "a recognition" of the party's decade in power, and "a warning, because we were hoping for a wider margin of victory."

The results "signal that some things need to be done better," he added.

With a clear majority in Congress, the ruling party won 74 of the 137 seats and Moreno will have the support he needs to carry out his program.