Ecuador’s Yaku Pérez: ‘A triumph even if we don’t get to the second round’

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Indigenous candidate’s party will wield influence in congress despite likely disappointment in presidential run-off

Gideon Long in Bogotá

Indigenous leader Yaku Pérez may fail to make the run-off in Ecuador’s presidential race but his party has made big gains in parallel parliamentary polls — sending a signal that voters in the Andean nation are eager for an alternative to the traditional programmes of left and right.

As things stand, Pérez came third in February’s first round of the presidential elections, with 19.4 per cent of the vote. He missed a place in next month’s run-off by just 32,000 votes — less than 0.3 per cent of the ballots cast.

But although the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) says that leftwing economist Andrés Arauz and conservative businessman Guillermo Lasso will face off in the second round on April 11, Pérez has not given up hope. He is seeking to become the first indigenous leader in Ecuador’s history.