Candidates avoid crowds in last week of campaign; Election Council member blasts delay in replacing Villavicencio; Country risk shows slight improvement

Aug 16, 2023 | 0 comments

Candidates for the presidency and National Assembly are taking special safety precautions in the final week of campaigning for the August 20 election. Most candidates are avoiding large rallies, focusing on small gatherings and television and radio interviews.

The emphasis on security follows the last week’s assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, as well as three other murders of candidates and a campaign manager in Esmeraldas.

Electoral Council member Mérida Nájera is criticizing CNE President Diana Atamaint for not acting more quickly to approve the candidacy of Christian Zurito following Fernando Villavicencio’s assassination.

The campaign’s “quiet period” goes into effect Friday at midnight, after which election law requires the suspension of all political activity until after Sunday’s election.

On Tuesday, presidential candidates Jan Topic (PSC and Patriotic Society), Luisa González (Citizen Revolution) and Yaku Pérez (Democracia Sí, Popular Unity) were in Quito, giving interviews and meeting with groups of supporters. Otto Sonnenholzner campaigned in Guayaquil.

Based on the final polls, most analysts believe González will lead the presidential field in Sunday’s election with Sonnenholzner, Pérez and Topic battling for second place and a spot in the October runoff election. Before last week, it was believed that González might win an outright victory Sunday, with more than 40% of the vote and 10% lead over the runner-up, but the last polls indicated a drop in support.

Newspaper columnist and television commentator Jorge Jiménez believes that the candidacy of Villavicencio will have a “slight increase” in voter support following last Wednesday’s assassination, whether or not the National Electoral Council certifies the Construye party replacement candidate Cristian Zurita. Villavicencio’s name will appear on the ballot since the election forms were printed before his death. Jiménez says the Villavicencio candidacy will not receive sufficient votes to qualify for the runoff.

Based on polling, which ended last week, experts believe the Citizen Revolution party will win the largest number of seats in the National Assembly but not a majority.

Election Council member blasts delay in replacing Villavicencio
National Electoral Council member Mérida Nájera is criticizing CNE President Diana Atamaint for delaying a decision to allow Christian Zurita to replace Fernando Villavicencio as the Construye Movement’s presidential candidate.

“Under the circumstances, Zurita’s candidacy should have been acted on immediately and the delay punishes Construye, which has already suffered a terrible lose,” Nájera said. “He should have been on the stage Sunday night for the debate but was denied the opportunity by the [CNE] president.” Nájera added that the CNE has acted with “indolence” in not proceeding quickly to make a decision on Zurita’s candidacy.

Atamaint has insisted on following what she claims is the “legal avenue” for responding to the death of a candidate. Although she is “expediting” the process, she claims all procedures of qualification must be followed.

Country risk shows slight drop
Ecuador’s Country risk dropped modestly in the last 10 days, from 2,033 to 1,822. Compiled by several international fiscal monitoring agencies, including the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, the rating represents the risk of non-payment of debt by companies and governments based on economic and political factors.

According to Finance Minister Fausto Ortiz, Ecuador’s risk remains high due to its high national debt, political uncertainty and drug trafficking violence.

According to comments by the OECD, the country’s drop in risk rating is based on a rise in international oil prices and recent polls showing a decline in support of the Citizens Revolution political party in Sunday’s election. An OECD spokesman said some Citizens Revolution candidates support debt default and using Central Bank reserves to fund the national budget.

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