The leading leftists presidential tickets are in danger of being booted from the February national election ballot, legal experts say. Both the Unión por la Esperanza (Unes), supported by former President Rafael Correa, and the Pachakutik indigenous party violated election law when they named vice presidential candidates who were not qualified under National Electoral Council (CNE) rules.
The situation with Unes is even more complicated, the experts say, since Correa was first nominated as vice president to be Andrés Arauz’s running mate without meeting the qualifying requirements. “This is a real mess and the election council decision about it could set off a political firestorm,” says attorney Rafael Oyarte. “It could easily become the biggest story of the campaign. There are clear election violations with the two tickets.”
The Pachakutik presidential candidate is Azuay Province Prefect Yaku Perez.
Both Unes and Pachakutik nominated vice presidential candidates before the August registration deadline who later declined their nominations, Correa for Unes and Larissa Marangoni for Pachakutik. Their respective replacements, Carlos Rabascall and Virna Cedeño did not qualify by the deadline.
Under Ecuador election law, both the presidential and vice presidential candidates are disqualified in the case of a violation.
In Correa’s case, says Oyarte, he was not qualified to run as vice president in the first place. “The election law is clear that a candidate must appear in person to accept the nomination and Correa did not, since he would have been arrested if he had entered the country. There are other issues with his candidacy as well, including the fact that including him on the ballot would have been a violation of the two-term limit for presidential candidates.”
Oyarte and another elections analyst, Ismael Quintana, claim that legally the elections council has no choice but to disqualify both Unes and Pachakutik from the presidenitial race. “The Correistas are already claiming that the violations are technicalities that will be used to persecute them but these are election rules adopted during the Correa administration that have been enforced in every election since,” Quintana says.
CNE President Diana Atamaint has been tight-lipped about the issue. “We will have to review all these issues in accordance with the law and the Constitution before the council can make a decision,” she said. “At this point I am not in a position to say more on the matter.” She did say when CNE will make a final decision.
Although center-right CREO candidate Guillermo Lasso would appear to gain the most if Unes and Pachakutik are disqualified, a party spokesman claims CREO has no objection to having the parties on the ballot. “The more candidates to split the leftist vote the better it is as far as we’re concerned,” he said. “It increases our odds for a first primary victory.”