Lenín Boltaire Moreno is in the lead after the weekend’s nail-biting presidential election in Ecuador. The anointed candidate of fiery leftwing President Rafael Correa was close to the margin required to avoid a second round against Guillermo Lasso, a conservative former banker, in a litmus test for the battered Latin American left.

After a campaign that thrusted in focus the strong but divisive legacy of the US-trained economist Mr Correa, who has been in power for a decade, official results showed that his candidate had beaten Mr Lasso. To win outright, he needs to secure at least 40 per cent of the ballots and maintain a 10-point edge over Mr Lasso.

With 82.5 per cent of votes counted, Mr Moreno led with 38.9 per cent, while Mr Lasso had 28.5 per cent. Trailing behind was Cynthia Viteri, a former centre-right lawmaker, with 16.3 per cent of the polls. Paco Moncayo, a left-leaning former mayor of Quito, held 6.8 per cent. Final results are expected later on Monday.

“We remain firm,” Mr Moreno said. “This is a long-haul fight. We will win this battle.”

In the event of a runoff, combined opposition votes could trounce Mr Moreno’s chances, hence ending Mr Correa’s “Citizen’s Revolution” while further shrinking the strain of leftist governments in the region. Mr Correa rode high on the last oil boom, bringing political stability and economic growth to the once-volatile Opec nation

But the end of the commodity’s boom brought alongside an economic downturn, a rise in underemployment, and allegations of corruption. Moreover, Mr Correa’s mercurial style -attacking foes on national television and having the media as his whipping boy, has tarnished his achievements by enraging many Ecuadoreans.

Although more conciliatory in style, Mr Moreno, a disabled former deputy president, was seen by many voters as a proxy candidate, garnering support by vowing to continue the populist policies of Mr Correa.

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