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Presidential hopefuls jockey for position ahead of 2021 national election

Although the next national election is a year-and-a-half away, two of the leading candidates to succeed Lenin Moreno as president are busy laying the groundwork for their campaigns. In recent weeks, former Guayaquil mayor Jaime Nebot of the Social Democratic party and Guillermo Lasso of CREO, have been holding strategy meetings with elected and party officials around the country.

Jaime Nebot

Both candidates are considered centrist-conservatives although Nebot has signaled a move to the left in several recent statements.

Lasso announced that he would run again for president following his narrow defeat to Moreno in 2017 while Nebot has not publicly committed, saying he is still “exploring the possibility.”

Since the beginning of July, Nebot has met with mayors and municipal council members of several cities, including Machala and Ambato, while Lasso has visited officials in communities near Quito. “I’m in the process of educating myself about the needs and problems of the various regions of the country,” Nebot says. “So far, I am hearing about the crisis of underemployment in Ecuador as well as the need to provide greater support to agriculture, livestock and agribusiness.”

Guillermo Lasso

Meanwhile, Lasso announced that he will move his family to Quito from Guayaquil, saying he wants to strengthen CREO support in the sierra and Amazon regions. Last week he met with officials in Puembo, Chilibulo and Quito.

Nebot made headlines two weeks ago when he announced his support for changes to Ecuador’s abortion law, saying he now supports a woman’s right to an abortion in cases of rape and incest. Lasso said he supports the current law and opposes abortion in all cases.

According to former interior vice minister Wilson Ugalde, Nebot is attempting to move to the political center and take advantage of what he sees as confusion among the country’s leftist movements. “This is probably a smart move on his part, distancing himself from Lasso on the one hand and appealing to center-leftists who don’t like [former president Rafael] Correa but are disappointed with Moreno,” he says.

Uglade, an adjunct professor of Latin American studies at Fordham University in New York, says it too early to determine the “big themes” of the 2021 presidential election.  “Nebot and Lasso are smart to keep their campaigns low key at this point,” he says.

Uglade says he expects presidential candidates for Alianza Pais and supporters of Correa to emerge within six months. He also expects opponents of mining and oil exploration to field a strong candidate, splitting the leftist vote. “The left and center-left field will be crowded,” he says. “Things will get very interesting in the next few months.”

12 thoughts on “Presidential hopefuls jockey for position ahead of 2021 national election

  1. Ironically, one of the names being mentioned as the possible correista candidate is Xavier Lasso, brother of Guillermo.

    1. Not so ironic. He was a high-level official in Correa’s government for many years and often criticized his brother.

  2. Well most of us knew Lasso was going to run again. He may win this next election since Moreno can’t get on his on feet and get things going any better.

  3. Everything Moreno has been doing since 2017 has been to pave the road for Nebot. He practically admitted as much in a speech back in June. All the bogus charges against high-level Correistas that never lead to a prosecution, the 11 cases against Correa, each one more ridiculous than the last, all of it has been to keep Correa and his allies out of the race because Nebot knows he’d lose in the first round to anyone offering to bring back the system that led to the longest period of economic growth and lowest poverty rates in the nation’s history. That pesky democracy is the only thing standing in Nebot’s way, so they nullify anyone they can’t beat at the polls (just like they just did with the CPCCS).

  4. A strong center candidate with a populist appeal could prevail. The left in Ecuador is fractured into at least three hostile factions. Voters on the right would easily accept a centrist candidate against a leftist as would many left centrists if the final choice were between center and right.

    1. Except those three factions on the left aren’t going to vote for the right and because of the runoff system, you have to actually win a majority. One candidate from the left will come out of the first round and then whoever is left on the right will lose in the second. It’s not like the US where a guy can get 47% of the vote from an electorate where only 40% bother to vote and still win.

  5. Ecuador’s political system is extremely fractured. It is reasonable to expect that the Presidential election in 2021 will go to a runoff. Nebot and Lasso will probably compete for the right and right-center vote, with whomever wins out making the runoff as the candidate of the right. Candidates of the center, center-left, and left will likely battle it out for the other spot in the runoff.

    A candidate for Alianza PAIS, President Moreno’s Party, is far from a lock to make the runoff. The party, which dominated Ecuador’s elections for a decade, has seen it’s popularity plummet along with Moreno’s. AP was clobbered in sectional elections last March, losing almost all the Prefects it held, and two thirds of the mayor’s offices it held.

    Candidates from other parties will be competing with AP for the center and left-center vote including Democracy Yes!, which got more votes than AP last March, as well as Democratic Left, Democratic Center, and PODEMOS.

    The possibility of a candidate from the left making the runoff should not be discounted. Despite being hammered by by the Moreno government’s polemics and prosecutions, and being savaged daily in both the private and government media, the socialist left retains a significant base of support throughout the country. The strongest party on the left remains Citizens Revolution (which the corporate media prefers to label “Correa supporters” or “Correistas”). Running candidates last March on the line of Social Commitment Movement, because authorities refused to allow them to register their own party, Citizen’s Revolution scored a stunning victory winning Prefect of Pinchincha. Despite its unofficial party status, Citizen’s Revolution has the second largest block in the National Assembly, because a third of the AP representatives split off from AP when Moreno took over the party.

    Pachakutik is kind of a wildcard. The indigenous-based party performed well in the March elections, scoring an upset victory in the election of Prefect of Azuay. In the past the party has aligned itself with both the left, the far left and also the right. Pachakutik has for many years been hostile to Citizen’s Revolution. Most recently, Pachakutik has been part of Moreno’s governing coalition in the National Assembly.

    To win the runoff, a candidate will need to be able to build alliances with a vast array of other parties, or at least get votes from their supporters. This includes those of the many regional parties which were greatly strengthened in last March’s elections, and as well as other organized groups and communities. Believe it or not, 244 parties were registered to compete in the March elections.

    Incidentally, Jaime Nebot’s Party is not called the “Social Democratic” Party, as the article names it, but the Social Christian Party (Partido Social Cristiano). In Guayas, the PSC stronghold, it is the leader of a regional alliance called, Madera de Guerrero.

    1. Alianza Pais won’t be anywhere near the runoff. Moreno completely destroyed the party when he sold out to the PSC. The honest members resigned en masse, causing Moreno to lose his majority in the legislature to the point that he made a (then) secret deal with CREO and the PSC to get anything done. Meanwhile, the largest bloc of legislators is made up of the former AP members who resigned, but Moreno’s handpicked electoral commission has cynically denied their application to form a new party. That’s the strategy, keep the Correistas off the ballot. That’s the only way the PSC or CREO has a chance and that’s why they maintain their alliance with Moreno even though their political ideologies (on paper) are completely incompatible. The only people left in AP are a bunch of lentejeros hoping to get a plum position in Moreno’s government. As the clock runs out on his tenure, they’ll all start attacking each other to curry favor with the next boss.

  6. Lol, the banker or the billionaire…Good choices..Since ‘the people’ don’t vote for those that don’t represent them, these guys will have to pull out the American political playbook and tell lie after lie to persuade anybody outside of their small constituency.

  7. Seeing as how Lasso actually won the last election, he seems the logical candidate to follow Moreno.

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