Cablegate: Guayaquil: Noboa and Prian Win Big, Social Christian's Take
DE RUEHGL #1002/01 2981618
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251618Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8625
INFO RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 9701
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3321
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2905
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 0945
UNCLAS GUAYAQUIL 001002
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM EC
SUBJECT: GUAYAQUIL: NOBOA AND PRIAN WIN BIG, SOCIAL CHRISTIAN'S TAKE
1. (SBU) Summary: Conservative, populist presidential candidate
Alvaro Noboa (PRIAN) carried Guayas province in the first round
elections with 36 percent of the vote, in line with the
disproportionate strength he showed in all three coastal provinces.
The Guayaquil based Social Christian Party (PSC) took a hit in its
coastal stronghold. While Presidential candidate Cynthia Viteri's
strong third place finish accounted for a big chunk of her national
vote tally, but PRIAN soundly displaced the PSC as the leading party
in the province. The PSC party is under pressure to renovate, as
party boss Leon Febres Cordero faces recrimination from younger
leaders. The Christian Democratic Union (UDC) is aggressively
wooing disenchanted PSC politicians. However, in the near term we
expect that the wily PSC leadership will be able to work with Noboa
to preserve enough PSC perquisites to keep the party from imploding.
Guayaquil's economic and political elite are rallying around Noboa,
although they recognize his political and personal flaws. End
2. (U) Representing 25 percent of the national electorate, Guayas
province has always played a strategic role in national elections.
Noboa dominated the 2002 second round presidential elections in
Guayas, securing 67 percent of the votes in this pro-business part
of the country.
First Round Blow to the PSC
3. (U) In the first round of presidential voting on October 15,
Noboa easily carried Guayas province with 36 percent of the vote (up
from 24 percent in the 2002 first round) compared to almost 27
percent nationally. Correa and Viteri garnered 17 percent and 16
percent, respectively. The PSC's tally was a full ten percent lower
than its 2002 tally, when the PSC won 26 percent of the Guayas first
4. (SBU) On election night, Consulate election observers
participating in the OAS observation mission gathered a sample of
almost 10,000 votes from five different voting locations around
Guayaquil. The sample confirmed the Noboa victory immediately after
the close of the polls, prior to the crash of the national electoral
tribunal's contracted preliminary vote count.
5. (SBU) Viteri's gender apparently played a role in the election.
In our sample, 24 percent of female voters in Guayas voted for
Viteri, while only 18 percent of male voters sided with her. No
other candidate's votes were heavily divided by the gender of the
voter. Whether her gender gained her women's votes or just lost her
men's votes isn't entirely clear, but anecdotally we hear that
Viteri's hard luck story was inspirational to working class women.
Social Christian Party floundering
6. (SBU) Long the dominant force in Guayaquil, the PSC scored a
weak second place to PRIAN. Weeks prior to the election, we
reported that the PSC was providing only modest support for Viteri
while Febres Cordero focused on the congressional races. That
strategy appears to have failed. With 78 percent of the
congressional vote counted in Guayas, PRIAN has 37 percent of the
votes. The PSC is currently showing only 24 percent. Voters can
vote both party slate and for individuals. On the individual side,
Noboa's wife Annabella Azin Arce leads the field, with exiled former
president Bucaram's Partido Roldisista Ecuatoriano (PRE) candidates
holding second and third places. Febres Cordero is in fourth place.
Guayas holds 18 of the 100 congressional seats.
7. (SBU) Many Guayaquilenos we speak with are quietly satisfied with
the PSC's poor showing and hope that it marks Febres Cordero's
comeuppance. It is clear that the PSC is divided and many younger
leaders are frustrated. On election day, PSC leaders gathered at
the home of Leon Febres Cordero--presidential candidate Viteri
stayed at home with family and confidants to watch the election
results. In contrast with Correa and Noboa's very visible
supporters, PSC representatives were largely absent from the polls
on election day. We have also heard that the Christian Democratic
Union Party (UDC) is trying to lure popular Guayaquil mayor Jaime
Nebot and others away from the PSC by offering its political base in
the highlands region. In a recent conversation with the Consul
General, Nebot was characteristically circumspect about his own
political future. He made a point of praising Viteri's campaign and
her post-electoral "dignity," a common refrain here, where Viteri's
standing has risen. Most are blaming the party rather than Viteri
for her poor showing.
8. (SBU) Noboa, his wife and all of his inner circle hail from
Guayaquil, and we expect him to easily win Guayas province with the
majority of the PSC vote going to him in the second round. Noboa
values loyalty and delegates poorly, so a Noboa cabinet would
probably be made up of high level Noboa employees--perhaps from some
of his overseas operations--as well as some old-school PSC members.
The political and economic elite from the coast are relieved by
Noboa's first round win and are confident - perhaps overly so - that
he will defeat Correa in the second round. Although they are
familiar with Noboa's weaknesses, they will provide strong support
in the coming weeks in an all-out effort to beat Correa.