Correa’s nomination for vice president sets off debate but the issue may soon be moot

Aug 18, 2020

Former President Rafael Correa

The nomination of former President Rafael Correa as vice presidential candidate for the Unión por la Esperanza (Unes), has launched a constitutional debate that will be decided by the National Electoral Council (CNE) or, possibly, the Constitutional Court. In its Tuesday morning political convocation, Unes nominated Andrés Arauz as its presidential candidate with Correa in the number two slot.

The question CNE will have to decide is whether the constitutional limit of two presidential terms also applies to the vice presidency. “Because Correa completed two terms as president I contend he is prohibited from serving as vice president,” says constitutional attorney Ismael Quintana. “The requirements for the vice presidency are the same as for the presidency so I believe that he is ineligible.”

Another Quito attorney, Jorge Zavala Egas, calls Quintana’s assessment an “arbitrary interpretation” and believes there is no impediment to Correa running for vice president. “I see nothing to stop him running for the office – assuming his bribery conviction is overturned – since the constitution does not say the president and vice president must be considered under the same rule.”

The entire question becomes moot, however, if Correa’s conviction in the Bribery 2012-2016 case is upheld. The conviction is currently under appeal but it is expected that that court will rule within a matter of weeks. By law, a person convicted of a felony in Ecuador cannot be a candidate for the presidency or vice presidency.

“Everyone expects the conviction to be upheld, which makes Correa’s inclusion on the Unes ticket a publicity stunt,” says Quintana. “The party is making the point that it is the party of Rafael Correa so the publicity of the nomination accomplishes that goal.”

Correa has lived in Belgium since he left office in 2017. If he returns to Ecuador he is subject to arrest for not making a court appearance in the Bribes case and a kidnapping case involving a political rival.