The National Assembly meets for the second time Saturday afternoon after Friday’s effort to elect a president fell one vote short. In a surprise move, President-elect Guillermo Lasso’s Creo party pulled out of an agreement with the Social Christians and the Correista Unes party that would have elected the Social Christian Henry Kronfle.
With members of Creo abstaining, Kronfle received 68 votes on a first ballot and 69 on a second but needed 70 to win. Angry Social Christians blamed Creo and Lasso of “betrayal” and said the last-minute withdrawal from the three-party agreement “would not be forgotten.”
Following Kronfle’s defeat, temporary Assembly chairwoman Pierina Correa of Unes called a recess to allow the political blocks to regroup. Following a three-hour break and intense hallway negotiations, two more presidential bids, for Salvador Quishpe of Pachakutik and Rina Campain of Creo, failed. Correa, who is the sister of former president Rafael Correa, ended the session at 6 p.m., calling for the Assembly to reconvene Saturday at 3 p.m.
Although Creo and Lasso offered no explanation of Creo’s defection from the alliance with PSC and Unes, members privately cited their discomfort with the agreement with the Correistas. “They wanted amnesty for [former vice president Jorge] Glas and other criminals of the Correa government,” said a Creo assemblywoman who asked not to be named. “They also wanted a so-called truth commission to exonerate the actions of that government and many of us objected. An agreement like that also violates the president-elect’s promises to keep politics out of the judicial system.”
In a statement Friday afternoon, the Social Christians said, “We can no longer remain allies with those [Creo] whose word is worth nothing. We stand with the people of Ecuador and will fight for their interests and will not work with those without honor.”
According to several journalists who cover governmental affairs, the break between Creo and the Social Christians is significant because both parties represent centrist right positions and frequently vote together in the Assembly.
The Unes party offered no statement following Friday’s session.
The agreement between Creo, Unes and the Social Christians set off a firestorm in the media after it became public Wednesday night. “It caused great damage to Lasso’s reputation since he had campaigned on a platform of not offering amnesty for those convicted for crimes,” said political blogger José Hernández. “Social media is filled with calls that he resign even before he takes office. He heard the complaints and, I think, reconsidered the uncomfortable position the deal would put him in. In the end, he didn’t drink the cyanide.”