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Cablegate: Election: Tse Ties Up Loose Ends, Bielsa to Return

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM EC
SUBJECT: ELECTION: TSE TIES UP LOOSE ENDS, BIELSA TO RETURN

1. (SBU) Summary: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) on
November 20 announced plans to use a combination of exit
polling and civil society and media quick count reporting to
tally unofficial presidential results. With a week to go
before elections on November 26, the TSE also froze both
candidates' bank accounts for exceeding campaign spending
limits. The OAS has confirmed that its Election Observation
Mission team would be back at work in Ecuador by November 21,
and that Rafael Bielsa would again head the mission. With
polls showing the election in a dead heat, redundant election
reporting could generate confusion and competing claims
during the days before the official tally becomes clear. End
Summary.

Battered TSE Plays it Safe
--------------------------

2. (SBU) Opting to avoid another scandal, the Supreme
Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has chosen to rely on outsiders to
report preliminary election results. TSE president Xavier
Cazar on November 19 announced that a combination of exit
polling and media and unofficial quick count reporting would
be permitted to report early unofficial results on November
26. Polling firms "Informe Confidencial", CEDATOS, and
Market have been tapped to provide exit poll results
immediately after the close of the polls at 1700 local,
provided the results are not close. NGO Citizen
Participation and television outlets "Teleamazonas" and
"Red-Telesistema" (RTS) will transmit their quick count
results several hours later, based on representative sampling
of official vote tallies. The OAS will also conduct a quick
count, but it is unclear whether the OAS would make those
results public.

OAS EOM Confirmed, Bielsa to Lead
---------------------------------

3. (SBU) OAS Ambassador to Ecuador Hugo Saguier on November
20 confirmed OAS EOM participation in the November 26
elections to PolOff. Saguier said that EOM Deputy Director
Moises Benamor would arrive with a team from Peru on November
21; the entire OAS EOM team would be in country by November
24. Saguier confirmed Rafael Bielsa's return as EOM
director, but did not provide an arrival date. Saguier said
that the OAS would again provide the TSE its quick count
results, but said the OAS would again request the TSE not
release them.

4. (SBU) The Embassy will contribute 19 volunteers to the
November 26 OAS EOM, down from 27 in the first round. The
EOM will have a total of 180 election monitors on the ground
on November 26. Citizen Participation will field a force of
3,000 national election monitors.

Candidates Exceed Caps, TSE Freezes Accounts
--------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The TSE on November 17 announced that it would
freeze the bank accounts of presidential candidates Alvaro
Noboa and Rafael Correa for exceeding campaign spending
limits. According to November 20 TSE figures, Noboa exceeded
the 687,068 cap on second round spending by 521,083 and
Correa by 75,165. Both candidates have reportedly appealed
the ruling. The TSE will have 90 days following the November
26 election to review campaign spending and apply fines
accordingly. Candidates that surpassed limits but did not
exceed 30% will be required to pay double the amount
overspent; those exceeded the cap by over 30% are required to
pay four times that amount. The TSE moratorium on campaign
spending is not retroactive, so pre-existing publicity bought
by the candidates will continue running at least through the
next few days.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) After being severely burned by the E-vote scandal
during the first round, the TSE has shied away from risking
an official substitute. The combination of exit polling and
redundant quick count reporting would be effective, if the
results were not likely to be close. With polls showing the
race to be a dead heat, however, the TSE risks competing
results based on multiple and redundant reporting sources.
Exit polls were very good predictors of final results in the
first round, but the TSE has asked the pollsters not to
release results if the margin of difference is less than 3%
on election night, which could fuel claims of fraud from
Correa's camp. Official presidential results took over a
week to be finalized during the first round, and we expect a
similar long wait next week. In the interim, we put greatest
stock in the Citizen Participation quick count. Their
results matched final official results nearly exactly in the
first round, but will take several hours to tally on election
night. The OAS quick count will be less credible, in our
view, given the short amount of time remaining to prepare its
observation.
JEWELL

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