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By EMIR SADER*

Mistakes from the defeat of the Ecuadorian left that the entire Latin American left has to learn, valuing even more its internal unity and the centrality of confronting neoliberalism

The Ecuadorian left was deeply divided in the second round of presidential elections. The three candidates (three anti-neoliberals) obtained 66% of the votes: Arauz 32%, Yaku 19%, Xavier 15%. In the second round, Arauz rose only 17 points, reaching 47%. The remaining candidates did not formally support anyone, but instead focused their criticism on Arauz, whom they saw as the main enemy.

Meanwhile, Lasso had 19% in the first round, but was up 33% in the second round – almost equal to the combined votes of Yaku and Xavier: 34%. What is certain is that the left, with this transfer of votes, lost the majority in the first round, being defeated in the second. Conae's analysis of the vote concentration regions points to where Lasso ends up 'conquering' more votes in the second round.

Thus, the left, majority in the country, ended up losing the election. And the right, clearly a minority in the first round (19%), because of the division on the left, ended up electing its candidate.

Why did this happen? First, of course, is the lack of a sense of unity between the leftist candidates, Yaku and Xavier. Because they privileged privileged secondary contradictions with the government of Rafael Correa – conflicts with the indigenous movement, issues of environmental preservation – in the face of the fundamental contradiction of our historical period, that between neoliberalism and post-neoliberalism. Conae proposed a strange “ideological null vote”. This flow of votes -1.600,00, which in the second round of 2017 were 980.000 - had decisive weight in the final result, as Lasso ended up winning by about 400.000 votes.

The majority left in the party failed to restore unity to its camp in the second round and was defeated. It also has to do with the way Rafael Correa's government – ​​the most important in Ecuador's history – addressed issues of dissent in the popular field.

The opposition, both from the right and from the left, explored, in a prioritized way, the 'anticorreismo'. Consciously on the right. Irresponsibly by sectors of the left, who ended up making this issue central to the campaign, justifying the game they ended up playing and which decided the final result of the election in favor of the right.

Sometimes they confessed that they preferred Lasso – the biggest banker in the country, an orthodox neoliberal –, sometimes in bad faith, favoring him, erecting the return of Correismo as their fundamental enemy.

The problem of the lack of unity on the left and the rise of Lasso comes from the previous presidential election, in 2017. Lenin Moreno, chosen by the internal elections of the National Alliance as the candidate for the continuity of the Citizen Revolution, by Rafael Correa, won with just a few more than two points to Guillermo Lasso, after 10 years of the government that made the most transformations in the history of Ecuador. Something was wrong. But the corresponding analyzes were not carried out. The left tends to learn more from defeats than from victories.

Decisive for the division of the Correista camp was the betrayal of Lenin Moreno, who ended up practically liquidating Aliança País, the Citizen Revolution party and weakening this camp, due to the confusion it caused, but also due to the direct repression of the Correismo leaders and Rafael Correa himself. , who had to seek asylum in order not to be arrested, through a judicialization process, characteristic of the contemporary Latin American right.

Meanwhile, sectors of the indigenous movement consolidated themselves as their own political field – Conae and Pachakutik – with strong opposition to correismo. Other sectors of the left – such as Xavier's candidacy – also contributed to this position.

Unlike Bolivia, where, despite some conflicts with the indigenous movement, Evo's government continued to have the massive support of that movement, which ended up being decisive in the great victory of the MAS in the first round of the last elections. Aliança País and Rafael Correa's government had many conflicts with the indigenous movement, which became autonomous and began to oppose, for the most part, the government. The MAS reunited the entire popular field and reaffirmed itself as the hegemonic force, keeping within itself the differences and conflicts within the left field.

The combination of these phenomena led to the inability of Correismo to re-establish the unity of the left and assert itself as a hegemonic force in the popular field, causing a majority left in Ecuador to be defeated by a minority right, which will govern the country for the next four years, restoring its neoliberal model, which starts again with the privatization of the Central Bank of Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian left and the entire Latin American left have to learn from this painful defeat, valuing even more their internal unity and the centrality of confronting neoliberalism.

*Emir Sader He is a retired professor in the Department of Sociology at USP. Author, among other books, of Revenge in history (Boitempo).

Originally published on the portal Brazil 247.

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