Agitation around the upcoming Ecuadorian elections

After ten years of the self-proclaimed ‘Citizens Revolutions’, Ecuadorians will turn out to vote on the 19th of February to elect their new president and national assembly representatives. Without Rafael Correa Delgado, current President of Ecuador, in the ballot; the turmoiled dynamics of the campaign and the political developments of the past months have shown the unpredictability of the upcoming elections. The political arena has been greatly shaken by the resulting corruptions scandals involving state officials and members of the opposition.

Despite not being able to be re-elected for a third term, Correa Delgado remains a key political figure. His party has turned into an electoral bulldozer in these ten years in power. Aiming at retaining power, Alianza País (incumbent party) has chosen the two most popular figures in their ranks: Lenin Moreno (Correa’s vice-president in his first term) as the presidential candidate, and Jorge Glass (Correa’s vice-president in his second term) as the vice-presidential candidate. By December, Lenin and Jorge Glass had been predicted to win the general elections with just over 30% of the total votes. Corruption allegations, however, have been used for and against the government hopefuls. Jorge Glass, current vice-president hoping to continue as such for a further term, has been involved in corruption investigations in a project he was responsible for. The opposition parties have strongly advocated a further investigation on Glass relationship with the corruption network. Prosecution authorities did not linked Glass directly to the investigation.

Recent investigations, with the aid of reports from the US Department of Justice, have also linked members of the opposition with corruption networks – most notably the case of Odebrecht, one of the biggest construction companies in Latin America. The current investigation has harmed the image of one of the strongest parties which is led by Guillermo Lasso, millionaire and ex-banker who is giving the presidential run another go. He has not been linked to a corruption network, but some of his key party members and supporters have – such as Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito. The Odebrecht scandal has also splashed members of the Madera de Guerrero party, former Partido Social Cristiano. One of such members, the current Mayor of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest urban area; has been accused of being involved in corruption with the company many years ago.

February elections in Ecuador will be marked by the poor economic performance of Ecuador in the last two years, as well as the recent corruption investigations. This will surely be a period where the political project of Rafael Correa and his party, Alianza Pais, will be tested for the first time without its major leader. Correa has had many electoral victories, always being at the centre of the debate. This time, however, Ecuador will either experience a ratification of the support of a long-lived political process (ten years is long for Ecuadorian standards), or a rejection of the mentioned project without its major leader. Most polls suggest Moreno (incumbent party candidate) will most likely win by a reasonable margin. We know polls are not always correct. What is more, people are sensitive to issues only when they affect their day-to-day lives and often demand change without fully considering its implications.

Matías Velastegui

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