An indigenous leader, a former vice president, a “Rambo” and a former deputy They are among the eight candidates who will aspire to the presidential seat on August 20 in Ecuadorafter an institutional crisis that led to the dissolution of Congress and the call for early general elections.
The new president must complete the period 2021-2025 that outgoing President Guillermo Lasso will leave unfinished in a country hit by violence linked to drug trafficking, economic setbacks and strong protests by indigenous peoples, which in the past have led to the overthrow of three rulers between 1997 and 2005.
“With any president the situation will be very complex; of this president who is going to be elected now and, surely, of the one who will be elected in 2025,” political scientist Simón Pachano told AFP.
Added to this is the fragmentation of political parties and currents, which was evidenced in the dissolved Parliament controlled by a divided and dispersed left, according to this professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Quito.
Among the presidential candidates are left-wing aboriginal leader Yaku Pérez, right-wing businessman Otto Sonnenholzner, vice president between 2018 and 2020, and Jan Topic, a prosperous executive and former sniper for the French Foreign Legion. who is called “Rambo”, “mercenary” or the “Ecuadorian Bukele” for promising a strong hand against crime in the style of the Salvadoran president.
Lasso, the unpopular right-winger in power since May 2021, declined to run for the elections, in which the 137 members of the unicameral National Assembly that he dissolved in May alleging “serious political crisis and internal commotion” will also be elected.
Cornered by a political trial to which he was subjected by the opposition majority of the Legislative that accused him of embezzlement, the ruler applied that constitutional power, which contemplates early elections to complete the current four-year period (until May 2025).
Other candidates to replace Lasso are former deputies Luisa González, the only woman nominated and letter from the movement related to former socialist president Rafael Correa (2007-2017); Daniel Noboa (right) and Fernando Villavicencio (center).
The businessman Xavier Hervas, who placed fourth in the 2021 election, and the lawyer Bolívar Armijos (both center-right) complete the range.
A recent survey by the private Perfiles de Opinión, provided to AFP, revealed that Yaku Pérez is the best known among voters, closely followed by Sonnenholzner. At a distance are Villavicencio, Noboa, Topic and González, in that order.
“These hands (…) clean and above all free, are not tied to banking, extractivism or corruption,” Pérez said when registering. He had already participated in the 2021 elections for Pachakutik, the political arm of the indigenous people, who once again supported him, but came third below Lasso with 32,000 fewer votes and did not go to the ballot.
43% of those consulted responded that they would vote for the presidency for someone new, 25% for a correista candidate and 11% by someone with business experience.
In the midst of the rush to hold the elections, 73% of those surveyed maintained that they still had not decided who to vote for.
Pachano considers that correísmo, which achieved more than a dozen electoral victories online during its decade in power, “will continue to be the first forcethe first majority within the Assembly, but not an absolute majority”.
However, at the presidential level it is not easy. “It has been losing votes since 2014 and has also been restricted to certain electoral strongholds” such as the coastal province of Manabí, the third with the largest electorate and where González is from.
Correa, who has lived in Belgium since 2017, cannot run for the presidency because the current Magna Carta allows re-election only once and is also disqualified by a sentence of eight years in prison for corruption.
In the port of Guayaquil (southwest and capital of Guayas, the province with the most voters) “a large part” of the vote “going to the ‘Rambo‘ who appeared” as the “outsider” for the contest, assured the political scientist in reference to Topic.
The security and telecommunications businessman, who as a legionnaire has fought in several wars, “has taken the flag of combat insecurity and it does so clearly in a military way, let’s say a way to defeat crime in armed terms. There is no general plan, a statesman’s vision of what should be,” he estimated.
Along with the elections for president and vice president and legislators, August 20 two popular consultations promoted by environmentalists will be held to curb the exploitation of oil and minerals in two areas declared biosphere reserves.