Correista leadership says Villavicencio murder and ‘campaign mistakes’ led to election disappointment

Aug 24, 2023 | 0 comments

In television and radio interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, the president of the Citizens Revolution movement admitted she expected “much better results” from Sunday’s election. She claims that the party’s candidates were “severely harmed” by the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio but added that “mistakes were made” in campaign strategy.

Marcela Aguiñaga, right, during an Ecuavisa interview.

“It is true, we expected more success from the election,” said Marcela Aguiñaga, Guayas Province prefect and CR campaign leader. “Before the assassination, our polling showed Luisa [González] was very close to a first election victory and that our candidates would be very close to winning a majority in the National Assembly. We were at 38% or 39% in the presidential race and believed we would win at least 67 or 68 seats in the Assembly, if not 72.”

Villavicencio’s murder was the biggest factor in the election, Aguiñaga says. “It disrupted everything and slanderous rumors circulated that members of Citizens Revolution were involved in the plot,” Aguiñaga said. “This is why we are insisting that police and prosecutors release information from the investigation as soon as possible so people understand the crime.”

According to Aguiñaga, political opponents “spread stories about a criminal hecatomb,” implicating the CR movement.

Among the effects of the assassination, she said, was the emergence of Daniel Noboa as González’s challenger in the October runoff. “No one expected it. It was total surprise,” she said.

Also unexpected, says Aguiñaga, was the strength of Villavicencio’s Construye Movement and of Noboa’s National Democratic Action party in the National Assembly race. “We expected them to win a few seats, but not 43 or 44.”

She added: “It should not be overlooked that CR gained three or four Assembly seats and we believe we will add another when the overseas telematic voting problems are resolved. We are the largest and most influential voting bloc in the Assembly and we are looking forward to great success in the coming months.”

In an interview with Ecuavisa, Aguiñaga conceded that González will have a “difficult fight” to defeat Noboa in October. “We realize we made some mistakes in the campaign and those are being corrected,” she said. “It will be hard, but I am confident we will win the runoff.”

Given the strong anti-Correista sentiment among many voters, the interviewer asked where González expects to pick up runoff votes. “We think we can gain votes from several of the defeated candidates, as well as from Noboa because we think much of his support is soft. We also expect many of Jan Topic’s supporters will move to our side,” Aguiñaga says. “As the new campaign begins, people will learn more and more about Luisa and Noboa and we think they will determine that Luisa is the better choice.”

In a radio interview Wednesday, Aguiñaga conceded that CR must pay more attention to younger voters. “I think this is a fair criticism although we did very well with the youth vote,” she says. “We will be much more aggressive and sophisticated in our use of social media in the next two months.”

Aguiñaga dismissed suggestions that Rafael Correa’s dominance of the CR movement was a factor in the election. When an interviewer referred to a social media comment by an alleged CR campaign worker that the “Citizens Revolution had become the party of the old man,” Aguiñaga responded that “this is total garbage,” suggesting the anonymous comment was “probably planted” by the opposition. “Rafael Correa is our founder and our advisor, but every candidate of CR is free to speak his or her mind without intimidation. Each one of us is our own person.”

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