Under a tight deadline, some presidential candidates are known while others will announce soon

May 22, 2023 | 9 comments

With less than weeks weeks remaining for presidential candidates to register for the special cross death election, political experts say three strong contenders – two familiar names and a newcomer – are already known.

Cuenca attorney and environmental activist Yaku Pérez announced Saturday he intends to run again for president. Pérez came within two percentage points of beating President Guillermo Lasso for a runoff spot against the Corresita candidate Andrés Aruz in the 2021 election.

Yaku Pérez

Pérez did not say which party or parties he will affiliate with since he is no longer a member of the indigenous Pachakutik party.

Pérez says his campaign will focus on environmental issues and opposing criminal mining and drug organizations. “These groups are tearing apart the natural and social fabric of our country and must be confronted directly,” he said. “Beyond this, we must address the crises in employment, public health and education in Ecuador.”

Another strong candidate, according to experts, is former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner who says he is forming a coalition of support from three or four political parties. Like Pérez, he says fighting crime will be a major focus along with building consensus among Ecuador’s major social groups.

Quito economist and businessman Jan Topic is the newcomer among early entrants. Although he says he will run as an independent he will have the support of former presidential candidate Jaime Nebot and the Social Christian party.

Topic says his top priority is fighting organized crime. “Today, our country is consumed in an inferno of chaos and violence. I am outraged to see how those responsible for our security show a total lack of knowledge in this matter, spending months in office without even presenting a plan or strategy, ” he said in a video posted on social media.

Jan Topic

Other announced candidates include former National Assemblymen Daniel Noboa of the United Ecuadorian Movement, Dalton Bacigalupo of the Democratic Left and Fernando Villavicencio of the Construye Movement.

Still to announce candidates are the strongest parties in the National Assembly, the Correista Citizens’ Revolution and the Pachakutik party.

Several political parties and prospective candidates are complaining about the June 10 deadline, set by the National Elections Commission, to register candidates. “The cross death has caught most of the political establishment off guard,” says journalist and political analyst Lolo Echeverría. “Although many believed it would come, they believed it would come a week or two later. This has left the parties scrambling for candidates and set off internal conflicts.”

Although it is expected that Pachakutik will nominate either Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) President Leonidas Iza or Assemblyman Salvador Quishpe, disagreements have surfaced about a possibly coalition with the Citizen’s Revolution. Several indigenous leaders have reacted to comments Iza made Friday regarding a possible support for the Correista candidate in a runoff election.

Nina Pacari, member of Conaie’s governing board, criticized Iza, saying the indigenous movement should never collaborate with the Correistas. “If this is our position, we will be giving votes to Yaku and deserting the interests of our people,” she said. “We can never forget that Correismo took away indigenous lands for mining and oil and dismantled bilingual education programs. We can never forget the insults it made against the native population.”

Although it has made no comment so far, most analysts expect the Citizens Revolution to again support Arauz, who lost to Lasso in 2021. “There is significant resistance to another Arauz candidacy but there may not be time for another strong candidate to emerge,” says Echeverría.

According to Echeverría, the tight registration schedule and the imminent election has caused major “disruptions” of the political coalitions that had formed in the National Assembly. “The alliances that supported Lasso’s impeachment are now broken and the old allies are now enemies,” he said. “This creates some very interesting scenarios for the election.”

In addition to the June 3 candidate registration deadline, the Elections Commission has set the date of the first election for August 20 with a runoff election, if necessary, to be held October 15. The winners are expected to take office by late November or early December.

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