Goal of fielding one presidential candidate fails as anti-government coalition falls apart
Azuay Province Prefect Paul Carrasco reacted angrily Thursday to news that Ecuador’s Social Christian Party had nominated Assemblywoman Cynthia Viteri as its presidential candidate for the 2017 election.
“This is news to me,” Carrasco said. “It violates the agreement to nominate a single candidate to give us the best chance of winning the presidency. It returns us to the status quo, which has been a losing strategy.” Carrasco had been part of a coalition organized last year to present a unified front in opposition to President Rafael Correa’s Pais Party.
In addition to Carrasco, the centrist and center-right political coalition included Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot who has been noncommittal about his own presidential ambitions, Viteri and others. Following meetings last year in Cuenca and one in March in Guayaquil, the group had committed to consulting other members before deciding on a candidate.
Earlier, Guayaquil banker Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business centrist, opted out of the coalition and announced his own candidacy. Lasso, who represents the CREO party, is second in recent presidential preference polling behind Lenin Moreno of Pais.
Although Nebot says he supports Viteri, who placed sixth in the 2006 presidential election won by Correa, his supporters are still hopeful that he will enter the race. He has been the most vocal critic of the Correa administration and has widespread support in Guayaquil and on the coast.
Carrasco, another centrist who represents the Avanza party, has consistently said he does not intend to be a candidate. It is unclear if he will change his mind following the dissolution of the coalition.
Correa is barred from seeking another term and plans to retire to Belgium, his wife’s home. He says he believes that País will maintain control of both the presidency and the national assembly in the February elections.