Daniel Noboa Makes History as Youngest President of Ecuador in 2023 Election

Cardboard cut-outs of Noboa became popular during the campaign. (EPA / BBC)

Businessman Daniel Noboa, at the age of 35, has made history by becoming the youngest president of Ecuador following his victory in the run-off election on a recent Sunday. With over 97% of votes counted, Mr. Noboa, a centrist, secured a four-percentage-point lead over his left-wing rival, Luisa González. In a gracious gesture, Ms. González conceded the election and congratulated Mr. Noboa on his win. During his victory speech, Mr. Noboa pledged to “give back a smile and peace to the country.”

The election campaign in Ecuador was marked by unprecedented levels of violence, with one candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, tragically assassinated just days before the first round of voting in August. Rising crime rates had been a significant concern for voters. Mr. Noboa acknowledged these challenges in his speech, promising to work towards rebuilding a country that had been affected by violence, corruption, and division. Despite his limited political experience, he faces the uphill task of addressing Ecuador’s security issues and its struggling economy, resulting from an early election due to the dissolution of parliament by the outgoing President Guillermo Lasso. Mr. Noboa will serve out the term that ends in May 2025 and can then consider a second term.

Supporters of Daniel Noboa celebrated his victory, with many seeing him as a fresh and alternative choice compared to traditional politicians. During his campaign, he outlined plans to combat powerful criminal gangs, improve border and port security to disrupt drug trafficking, and create job opportunities for young Ecuadoreans to boost the post-pandemic economy. Although he presented himself as a new face in politics, critics noted that he comes from one of Ecuador’s most influential families, being the son and heir of the banana magnate Álvaro Noboa, who had made multiple unsuccessful presidential bids.

Noboa’s victory is viewed by many as a rejection of the Citizen Revolution Movement and its leader, Rafael Correa, who still wields significant influence in Ecuadorean politics. Luisa González, Mr. Correa’s chosen candidate, had promised to reintroduce social programs reminiscent of his time in office but was unable to secure enough new voters for a win in the run-off election. Despite their differences, after her defeat, Ms. González struck a conciliatory tone, embracing the principles of democracy and extending congratulations to those who supported Mr. Noboa.