5 Points On Daniel Noboa, Who Became Ecuador’s Youngest Ever President-Elect

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Thirty-five-year-old Daniel Noboa rose from obscurity to become Ecuador’s youngest-ever president after the electoral authority declared him the victor and socialist rival Luisa Gonzalez conceded defeat in Sunday’s election. The son of one of the country’s wealthiest men, the banana magnate Alvaro Noboa, who has five failed presidential bids, Mr Noboa was the surprise winner with over 52 percent of the vote. Mr Noboa’s campaign centered around his pledge to make the country safe again, as Ecuador has seen a rise in violent crime that has many residents afraid of when they will be the next victim.

The millennial businessman became a minor internet celebrity in the run-up to the election as videos went viral of citizens posing with human-sized cardboard “Noboas” — printed for his campaign — showing up at house parties, riding the bus, or lazing on the beach. He also used social media to boost his support among Ecuador’s younger voters and the middle class, making up about a third of all votes.

As for his policy proposals, they have run the gamut from using satellites and drones to combat drug trafficking to converting ships into floating prisons for the most dangerous criminals. But he did present a firm image at a televised debate. He was not afraid to take on the more hardline candidates, especially when addressing the escalation of violence that has made the South American nation a playground for drug cartels.

In a speech on Thursday, Mr Noboa pledged to crack down on the gangs and “turn the tables” on those responsible for the violence. He also promised to create a commission that would focus on corruption in the government, which is widely seen as one of the primary sources of the problem.

The former businessman, who has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard, is not known for his political experience but entered the scene in 2021 when he got elected to parliament as a lawmaker. He built an independent coalition of lawmakers that would allow him to govern without needing a parliamentary majority.

His governing mandate will be short. He will be sworn in in December and serve for 17 months, the rest of the term of outgoing president Guillermo Lasso, who dissolved Congress in May to avoid an impeachment trial and called snap elections.

Mr Lasso was in power for only two years, and he left office after the murder of investigative journalist Fernando Villavicencio, whose killing shocked Ecuador. Analysts say that voters appear to be looking to a new generation of leaders to tackle the problems they face. They have had enough of the gangs, drug trafficking, and violent deaths that have turned the country into an anarchic war zone. However, Mr Noboa will not have a majority in the National Assembly and must win support from other lawmakers to avoid gridlock.

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