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Cablegate: Election: First Round to Noboa, Correa; Second

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INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6081
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2093
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 0151
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS QUITO 002532

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SENSITIVE
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PLEASE PASS ALSO TO USOAS AND USAID/LAC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV EC
SUBJECT: ELECTION: FIRST ROUND TO NOBOA, CORREA; SECOND
ROUND NOVEMBER 26


1. (SBU) Summary: Banana magnate Alvaro Noboa and radical
leftist Rafael Correa have won the first round of
presidential voting on October 15, according to incoming
official results, independent quick counts and exit polls.
The two men now face a run-off election on November 26.
Voting proceeded relatively smoothly on election day, but
results were delayed and remain partial. On the eve of
elections, Correa impugned the impartiality of the OAS
mission led by Rafael Bielsa, and continued to assert that
only fraud would deny him an outright victory in the first
round. End Summary.

Results
-------

2. (U) Official quick count results, with 50% of voting
precincts reporting, the results (percentage of valid votes)
stand at:

Alvaro Noboa - 27.43
Rafael Correa - 21.97
Leon Roldos - 15.78
Gilmar Gutierrez - 15.18
Cynthia Viteri - 10.95
Fernando Rosero - 2.12
Luis Macas - 1.96
Marco Proano Mayo - 1.57
Luis Villacis - 1.21
Jaime Damerval 0.60
Marcelo Larrea - 0.55
Carlos Sagnay - 0.35
Lenin Torres - 0.33

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3. (U) Unofficial from exit polls and independent quick
counts generally agreed with the official tally. Immediately
upon the close of voting booths, exit polls from three
different polling outfits showed Noboa winning the first
round with around 28%, followed by Correa with 27%. Two of
the three gave Leon Roldos third place, but one showed Gilmar
Gutierrez besting Roldos. Cynthia Viteri followed in fifth,
followed by Fernando Rosero (2.3%), Luis Macas (1.6%), Luis
Villacis (1.4%), Marco Proano Mayo (1.3%). With less than
one percent support followed Jaime Damerval, Marcelo Larrea,
Carlos Sagnay, and Lenin Torres, with 0.2%.

Voting Process Generally Smooth
-------------------------------

4. (U) Voting went relatively smoothly throughout the
country, with isolated reports of irregularities or delays.
Voting was suspended in the canton of Muisne, Esmeraldas
province, after reports of irregularities involving ballots
and controversy over outsiders attempting to vote. For the
first time, Ecuadorians living abroad were able to vote at
their consulates. There were 632 arrests for violations of
Ecuador's dry law, which prohibits the sale or consumption of
alcohol before and after elections.

Correa Smears OAS Mission Chief on Eve of Election
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) On October 14, front-running presidential candidate
Rafael Correa called on the OAS to replace Election
Observation Mission Chief Rafael Bielsa, accusing Bielsa of
political bias. At issue were Bielsa's alleged remarks at a
two meetings, most recently at a lunch with journalists
hosted by the Swiss Ambassador, on October 13. Correa
accused Bielsa of signaling his political preferences and
questioning the constitutionality of a constituent assembly,
the centerpiece of Correa's campaign platform. Bielsa has
publicly and privately denied the allegation, and was
supported by several others who attended the lunch.

Ambassador's Election Day Activities
------------------------------------

6. (U) The Ambassador and the Canadian Ambassador together
visited two polling places early on October 15. After
observing the process, the Ambassador expressed confidence in
the OAS observation mission to the press.

Reaction
--------


7. (U) Upon hearing of his apparent victory, Noboa
immediately sharpened his differences with Correa, calling
him a "terrorist-lover" and friend of Chavez. Correa claimed
his own polls showed him winning outright with more than 40%
of the vote and a 10-point margin over the runner-up. Any
other results were false or the product of fraud, he said.
According to Correa, OAS EOM chief Bielsa inspired no
confidence, since he publicly claimed the process to be
fraud-free while privately pointing out areas of concern to
election authorities. Gustavo Larrea, Correa's chief
political advisor, portrayed the second round match-up as
between candidacies of the oligarchy (Noboa) and the citizens
(Correa).

8. (U) Roldos wished Ecuador's next government stability and
help from God, but was equally critical of Correa and Noboa,
saying both represent authoritarian options. Both violated
election rules by overspending their well-financed campaigns,
he said, and Correa received funding from abroad. Roldos
declined to predict which his Ethical Democratic Network
(RED) would support--that decision would be taken
democratically. He likened the choice to "between cancer and
HIV/AIDS." For her part, Cynthia Viteri accepted the results
gracefully, refusing to blame anyone for her defeat.

Comment
-------

9. (SBU) We will report Congressional results after they
stabilize on October 16. Correa's attempt to discredit the
OAS mission's neutrality is ludicrous, but Correa may keep
playing the victim. With Noboa and Correa the clear
finalists, the presidential enters a second and final phase
culminating on November 26. Noboa now enjoys an
advantage--only two of the last seven elected presidents won
after entering the second round in second place. However, we
expect a tough race between these two very different
candidates, from different poles on the political spectrum.

10. (SBU) Correa's appeal is greater among the educated,
middle and upper-middle classes of the highlands (33% to
Noboa's 20% in the Sierra region, according to exit polls).
Noboa is more popular with the coastal poor (36% to Correa's
23%). Both will seek endorsements and alliances; Roldos',
Gutierrez', and Viteri's votes offer the largest prizes.
Negative voting will also be an important factor on both
sides. Fresh polling should help shed some light on voter
preferences, polls are usually a better guide in the second
round.

Suggested Press Guidance
------------------------

11. (U) Q: Any comment on Ecuador's October 15 presidential
elections?

-- the United States congratulates Alvaro Noboa and Rafael
Correa, the two candidates who are moving on to the second
round of elections, scheduled for November 26.

-- The Organization of American States and other respected
local civil society organizations observed the elections.
The preliminary consensus opinion is that the elections, in
general terms, were free and fair. We look forward to
reviewing their final reports.

Q: (If asked) What about Correa's accusations of electoral
fraud and of bias against OAS observer mission chief Bielsa?

-- We have confidence that the OAS mission operated with
absolute impartiality and contributed greatly to the
development of the democratic process.

Q: (If asked) Would a win by Rafael Correa in the second
round hurt U.S.-Ecuador relations?

-- the United States has traditionally had good relations
with the Government of Ecuador. We look forward to
maintaining a positive, cooperative bilateral relationship
with the next Ecuadorian government, consistent with our
commitment to Ecuador's democratic institutions and the
prosperity of its people.


Q: (If asked) Are you concerned about Correa's ties to
Venezuelan President Chavez?

-- We respect the sovereign right of the Government of
Ecuador to build relations with any government it chooses.
JEWELL

© Scoop Media

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