A month before the cross death election, voters are ‘confused and undecided’ about a presidential choice

Jul 20, 2023 | 8 comments

A month ahead of the August 20 national election, political experts say the level of voter indecision and apathy about the presidential race is “off the charts.” Experts say the shortened election timeframe and the emergency nature of cross death rules have created an unprecedented level of confusion among the electorate.

“Voters are aware of the fact that the winners in both the presidential and National Assembly races will serve for less than a year before the next election campaign begins,” says Medardo Oleas, former president of the Electoral Tribunal. “They are smart enough to know that very little will be accomplished during this period.”

Another problem among the eight presidential candidates, analysts say, is that most of them represent more than one political party and are obliged to support a range of positions, some of them in conflict. “Voters are aware of this and, as a result, must focus on the personalities,” Oleas says. “Only the Citizens Revolution has a unified ideological message. For the others, the message is a jumble of policies and viewpoints.”

The presidential race is almost certainly headed to a runoff, Oleas believes. “The polls show that we have four or five candidates with 60% of the vote, with Luisa González [Citizens Revolution] leading with 25% to 30%,” he says. “The question is who she will face in the October runoff – [Yaku] Pérez, [Otto] Sonnenholzner, [Fernando] Villavicencio or someone else. In any case, voter apathy about the choices is off the charts when compared to other recent elections.”

According to Oleas, the confusion comes at a bad time. “Now, more than ever, we need strong and decisive political leadership. At this point, I say democracy has failed in Ecuador and the election will provide no solutions. I hope I am wrong.”

Political commentator Alfredo Espinoza says that Ecuadorians were not prepared for the cross death. “Most people don’t know what’s going on or why they have to go to the polls again so soon after the last election,” he says. “They are worried about many issues, especially crime and the poor economy, but they don’t expect any solutions from the election. Things are happening too fast for most voters.”

He adds: “What we are dealing with here is the fast-food solution to critical problems.”

According to Oleas and Espinoza, there is an overarching theme to the election: the mission of the Correistas to regain control of the government. “This is the big issue for the political players, just as it was in the last election,” says Espinoza. “You have the Citizens Revolution people and then you have the never-Correa people who, in a runoff, will support whoever is not a Correista. In this campaign, you have the very real prospect of conservatives supporting the leftist Perez in a second election simply because he is not a Correista.”

Espinoza adds: “The trouble with this is that the problems of Ecuador come second to a fight involving personal enmities and personalities. What I fear is that we will have 18 months more of governance where nothing is accomplished, and nothing is solved.”

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