Although Lenin Moreno and Guillermo Lasso have been meeting with supporters and giving interviews since the Feb. 19 election, their campaigns go into high gear today. According to election rules, large public motorcades and rallies and television and newspaper advertising are allowed until Friday March 31. The runoff election is Sunday, April 2.
Translation: It will be a noisy three weeks.
Lasso has been working to consolidate the support of government opponents, meeting with organizations ranging from chambers of commerce to indigenous rights consortiums. He has the support of five of the six losing candidates from the Feb. 19 election. His main themes include reviving the economy, establishing a program of fiscal austerity, reducing the federal bureaucracy, cutting taxes, and restoring rights of free speech and assembly he claims have been attacked by President Rafael Correa.
Moreno, meanwhile, is touting the accomplishments of Correa’s 10 years in office, including the reduction of poverty and crime and massive investments in health care, education and physical infrastructure. He agrees with Lasso, that budget belt-tightening is in order but has promised to maintain spending levels on education, health care and programs that help the poor. Also like Lasso, Moreno says that Correa’s efforts to control the private media have gone too far and that he will loosen government controls on press freedom.
Beyond policy issues, what voters will decide in April is whether to continue the rule of center-left Alianza País, which has emphasized large government programs and centralized control aimed at helping the poor, or to shift to the right, reducing the size and reach of government and encouraging private enterprise. In large part, the election is a referendum on Correa’s legacy.
The polls are divided on which candidate holds the advantage. Two polls, including Cedatos-Gallup that proved to be the most accurate for the February 19 vote, give Lasso a three to four point lead. Two other polls have Moreno ahead by 10 and 12 points. Political analysts say the election is a toss-up.