The presidential race in Ecuador for 2021 is already the call with the most participants since the country returned to democracy more than 40 years ago. The political organizations defined this Sunday, the last day for the internal primaries, the names of their candidates and placed on the political board 18 pairs for president and vice president. Only two are headed by women. Rafael Correa is in one of them, despite the constitutional impediments to his return to the Carondelet presidential palace and the pending cases with the courts. The already veteran opponent Guillermo Lasso leads another option.
The last time the Latin American country had such a number of applications was in 1998 with 12 candidates for president. The 18 options raised this Sunday, however, still have to complete some formal requirements and can also form alliances that reduce the number of final candidates.
Former President Correa could be one of those cases, as he is a pre-candidate for the UNES alliance, with the political base of the Democratic Center, but to fight for the vice-presidency he must accept his appointment in person, exposing himself to being arrested when entering Ecuadorian territory due to the prison order against him after the eight-year prison sentence in the Bribery case. An alliance could also be cooked up between the traditional right-wing forces – and thus, in fact, it has been considered until the last moment in private meetings – to face precisely the option that will bear the correista stamp, with or without the leader of the Citizen Revolution on the ballot.
The historic Christian Social Party (PSC), one of the three that garnered the most assembly members in the previous presidential and legislative elections of 2017, weighed several options until the last moment after not being able to count on the leadership of whoever led the movement during the last two decades: the former mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, who announced at the end of June that he would not participate in the 2021 elections and that he was withdrawing from the front line of politics. The PSC appointed legislator Cristina Reyes for the race within hours of the end of the term.
Together with Guillermo Lasso’s Creating Opportunities (CREO) movement, they make up the most visible option of the Ecuadorian right. CREO won 34 seats in the last elections and the PSC, with 16, but they have always maintained a rivalry position and, until now, they have not managed to close an alliance with a single candidate. That possibility gains weight in the 2021 electoral call, but it remains unspecified despite the winks in favor. “The forces from the center to the right must act responsibly, sit at a table and put up a single candidate for the presidency. We must act with generosity for Ecuador! ”, Launched César Rohón, one of the most important Social Christian assembly members a few hours before Cristina Reyes was nominated to lead the Social Christian offer.
The other woman who aspires to arrive in Carondelet next May is Ximena Peña, also an assembly member. The leader of the ruling party left that responsibility weeks ago due to the controversial shortlist of names that President Lenín Moreno chose to replace the outgoing vice president. Peña said that he was leaving the head of Alianza PAIS in the Assembly, but he did not disassociate himself from the party that he will now represent on the ballot.
The indigenous movement, revitalized and at the same time polarized after the forceful protests of last October that forced the government to move from Quito to Guayaquil, selected the prefect of Azuay, Yaku Pérez, to head the presidential binomial. Larissa Marangoni was accompanying her as a candidate for vice president, but within hours of the closing of the primaries, the candidate declined and left a gap in the ‘number two’ of Pachakutik.
In addition to the nominations for the presidency and vice-presidency, the parties also had until this Sunday to draw up the lists of assembly members eligible for the 137 seats. Among the thousands of applicants, there are two with questions about their judicial situation. One of them, for the UNES movement of former President Correa, is Pablo Romero. He is sentenced for the kidnapping of an opponent in the same case for which the former president has been called to trial. Romero was head of intelligence in the Correísta government and has been extradited this year by Spain to Ecuador, but his conviction is not firm. Also former president Abdalá Bucaram, involved in a hospital corruption scheme, chose to run as an assemblyman despite the fact that two days before being arrested for that case he had announced that he would run for president.