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Lenín Boltaire Moreno, the anointed candidate of President Rafael Correa, claimed victory on Ecuador’s polarising presidential runoff, guaranteeing the flow of a ten-year long leftwing rule and defying a regional swing to the right. But his conservative contender is challenging the result as demonstrators took to the streets.

With 95.8 per cent of ballots counted official results show, Mr Moreno secured 51.1 per cent of the votes after a tense poll count. “This revolution continues,” Mr Moreno, who led the first round in February and who uses a wheelchair since a botched robbery almost two decades ago, told cheering supporters in Quito.

Guillermo Lasso, the former head of the Banco de Guayaquil, who has pledged to eject Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy if victorious, bagged 48.9 per cent of the vote. He is challenging the results claiming “pretensions of fraud”, while tussles broke outside Ecuador’s electoral authority.

“Mr Correa do not play with fire,” bitterly warned Mr Lasso.

Legally barred from running again, this was the first election in a decade in which Mr Correa, a notoriously mercurial leader whose critics accuse of autocratic tendencies, was not in the ballot. He was nevertheless a dominant figure in the campaign, because at stake was the legacy of his “citizen’s revolution”.

Ecuador’s election also marked another test of Latin America’s changing political environment.

A victory for Mr Moreno in the Opec nation would grant a breather to the besieged fortunes of the region’s left, after the entrance of right-of-centre presidents in Argentina and Brazil. But an economic downturn spurred by lower prices for Ecuador’s oil, alongside fiscal deficits, and a debt burden, pose challenges to Mr Moreno’s promises.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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