Noboa will be hard to beat in next year’s election but the challengers are lining up

Mar 1, 2024 | 0 comments

By Liam Higgins

The countdown is underway for the February 2025 national elections, whether voters are ready for it or not. “We’re all suffering from election whiplash as a result of the cross death disruptions but the next campaign has begun,” says political science professor and newspaper columnist David Chávez. He adds: “And the political season is about to get even more intense with the referendum next month, which is as much about politics as it is about public policy.”

Former Correista Carlos Rabascall has announced his presidential candidacy for the 2025 election.

Five candidates have announced or suggested their intentions to seek the presidency and a sixth, Citizens Revolution Luisa González, is expected to face off against Daniel Noboa again.

“The consensus is that Noboa will be hard to beat given his popularity and the fact we’re only 11 months from the election, but we’re all aware that anything can happen in Ecuadorian politics,” says Chávez. “Last year’s assassination [of Fernando Villavicencio] completely rearranged the election and put Noboa in office.”

Among those who have announced or are considering a presidential challenge are former Correista Carlos Rabascall; Conaie president Leonidas Iza; former Amigo movement candidate Bolívar Armijos; Socialist Party leader Pedro Granja; and País Sin Miedo’s Jan Topić, who finished fourth in last year’s election.

Citizens Revolution is not expected to officially name a candidate until later in the year but González appears to have a lock on the nomination.

“What’s interesting about the early entrants is that four of them are leftists or left-centrists, which could erode some support from the Correistas,” says Chávez. “Rabascall poses the biggest threat, due his popularity with many of the RC rank and file.”

Rabascall was Citizens Revolution’s vice-presidential candidate on the ticket with Andrés Arauz that lost to Guillermo Lasso in the 2021 runoff. He left the party last year, citing differences with Correa’s “overbearing” role in the movement.

Although there are suggestions Citizens Revolution’s position has been weakened for another presidential run, radio talk show host Simón Pachano says it remains the strongest threat to Noboa. “They have been hurt by revelations in the Metastasis case, but they remain the strongest political movement in the country,” he says. “They have a solid core of about 25% of the voters, which allows them to do well in the Assembly and local elections that can be won with a minority vote.”

Pachano says the biggest problem for the Correistas — beyond the “Rafael Correa problem” —  is identifying issues that can challenge Noboa. “Ecuadorians are laser-focused on security and they overwhelmingly support the government’s fight with the narco organizations,” he says. “Most of them see the armed forces as the country’s savior, which I think is misguided. People agree that lack of employment, poor health and education systems exacerbate the criminality, but this is a secondary interest for most of them.”

Under current circumstances, Pachano says that Topić is a candidate to watch. “He is suggesting that Noboa’s response to organized crime is not strong enough and that he needs to take the Bukele approach,” referring to El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, who has imprisoned tens-of-thousands suspected gang members. “If Noboa’s plan fails or backfires, Topić could be the beneficiary. He is waiting in the wings.”

An early supporter of Correa and language professor at the University of Guayaquil, Freddy Iglesias, agrees that Citizens Revolution has been hurt by corruption allegations, particularly former assemblyman Ronny Aleaga’s relationship to Latin King chief Leadro Norero. He maintains, however, that the organization remains strong and will challenge Noboa in February. “Yes, we have problems to resolve but our core remains strong and voters recognize that our principles have remained steadfast and are not negotiable.”

Regarding the so-called Rafael Correa problem, Iglesias says the former president’s role within Citizens Revolution is being evaluated. “He is our founder and leader and this is not going to change. With his assistance, we are considering the best way to use his influence in the next campaign.”

He adds: “Citizens Revolution will once again present to voters an approach that emphasizes improving the lives of all Ecuadorians, not just the privileged, through better employment opportunities, social programs that benefit the poor, and improvements to education and healthcare. We believe this is a winning approach.”

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