Thursday, October 12, 2006

Elections in Ecuador

Just want to share a bit about the elections here. Some of it is just an explanation of how things are done here, some of it will be humorous, and some is just a reminder to pray at this time. The first thing I want to say is how different the elections are here. First, there are about 20 candidates or so. There are only 4 that really have a chance and of those 4, there are 2 that have the best chance of actually winning. Election day is on Sunday, Oct. 15 and voting is mandatory. All campaign activities were supposed to end today. It's been pretty wild with all of that the last couple of weeks, especially in Quito. No alcohol is to be sold or consumed publicly two days before the election and the day of the election. Because of this and other factors, I've heard that elections can actually be a pretty peaceful time. They will have a 2nd round of the top 2 candidates if no one wins at least 50% in the first round. If one candidate gets a majority then this will avoid having the 2nd round.
Finally, for the humorous part, or at least slightly humorous part. There is one candidate that is running, who is the last president's brother (a President that was overthrown in April of 2005.) It's kind of a long story but he was thrown out of power for various corruption charges, he was exiled to Panama taking mucho dinero $ on the way. Then, he returned to Ecuador and was put in prison for a few months. Anyways, the old president's brother is running for president. In one of the towns we visited we saw this campaign parade they were having and on the side of the truck was their campaign slogan-'De la carcel al poder'-which means 'from the prison to power.' Only in Ecuador! The last few presidents were not even able to finish their terms for one reason or another. It has been about 10 years since a President has finished his term. The other interesting part of the elections here is hearing the campaign promises and advertisements. In the US, the promises are pretty general, better health care, education, etc. They are like that here as well but also they can get specific in funny ways. There is one guy who said that everyone would be able to get a house for $50 a month. It's kind of hard to explain all this, you would really have to be here to appreciate all of it. The bottom line is that we are asking for people to pray in this time, that things will go with the elections.

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