Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner resigned Tuesday morning and although he said he has not made a final decision it is widely believed he will announce his candidacy for president within a matter of days. “Ecuador faces one of the most important elections in its history and I offer my services to help eradicate the inequality, hunger, unemployment and corruption that plague the country,” he said at a morning news conference.
Although some political analysts predicted Sonnenholzner would criticize President Lenin Moreno, he offered only minor policy rebukes in his statement, saying the government needs to “do a better job of serving the people.” He thanked Moreno for the opportunity to be involved in public service.
“To be a viable candidate, Otto must distance himself to some extent from a president who is polling less than 20 percent in terms of favorability,” says Carlos Estevez, former vice interior minister. “It is unclear how he will handle this but I believe we will find out very soon.”
Sonnenholzner, 37, would join a crowded field of presidential aspirants, led by Guayaquil banker Guillermo Lasso, expected to be joined soon by a supporter of former president Rafeal Correa.
Yet to be determined, says Estevez, are Sonnenholzner’s politics. “We know almost nothing about where he stands on the issues and his announcement today does not change that. He has been highly visible in the health emergency so people have become used to seeing him and hearing him comment on issues regarding the virus. The expectation is that he will run as a left-centrist, distancing himself from Lasso, hoping to pick up support from liberals but as of now no one knows for sure.”
In his press appearance, Sonnenholzner said he would “accept the wisdom of the simple people of Ecuador as well as those in high places” in his effort to help the country. He also released a lengthy statement discussing his views on Ecuador’s future, his service to control the Covid-19 virus and his devotion to his family.
With Sonnenholzner’s exit, Moreno will begin the search for his fourth vice president in three years. Two of the former VPs are serving prison terms. In a statement Tuesday night, the president praised Sonnenholzner for his “highly valuable service” and wished him well in future endeavors.