Who are the presidential candidates for the October 20 cross death election? An overview

Jun 17, 2023 | 10 comments

Ecuador is preparing to hold early general elections after president Guillermo Lasso dissolved the opposition-dominated National Assembly last month and called emergency elections under a so-called “cross death” decree. Under the decree, both the Assembly and the presidency are up for election, although Lasso has decided not to run again. The winners in the special election, will serve for only a year-and-a-half before the regularly scheduled election is held in early 2025.

President Guillermo Lasso

Lasso decreed the cross death May 17, shortly after the Assembly began impeachment proceedings against him. He was accused of irregularities in the handling of public funds regarding a contract between the state-owned oil transport company and a private tanker company. He called the charges “politically motivated” and invoked the cross death for the first time since it had been included in the 2008 constitution, claiming that Ecuador was in a “political and social crisis.”

The dissolution of the Assembly obligated the National Electoral Council (CNE) to organize the emergency elections in a maximum period of 90 days, a process that normally takes six months.

According to the schedule, the campaign will conclude August 17 with the election to follow on August 20. In the case of the presidential race, a run-off will be held October 15 if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. The new president will assume power November 30.

With Lasso out of the race, eight presidential tickets have registered with CNE. The following is a brief overview of the candidates and their positions.

Citizens’ Revolution: Luisa González and Andrés Arauz
Lawyer and former labor and tourism minister Luisa González is the only woman running for the presidency of Ecuador. Her running mate is economist and former presidential candidate Andrés Arauz. The duo is running for the center-left Citizens’ Revolution Movement, founded by former president Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

Luisa González with former president Rafael Correa.

González, 46, was a legislator of the Union for Hope (UNES) alliance from 2021 until the dissolution of the National Assembly by Lasso. González has served the country since 2008 and held various public positions during Correa’s 10-year tenure.

Her running mate, Arauz, 37, led in the first round of the 2021 presidential elections but lost to Lasso in the second round. He held different positions during the Correa government.

Most political analysts consider González and Arauz the favorites for winning the election. Rafael Correa’s Citizens’ Revolution Movement enjoyed strong popular support during the first eight years of his administration but faced mounting opposition after the collapse of international oil prices, which forced a reduction in government programs and services. Although not a majority in the National Assembly when it was dissolved, the Citizen Revolution (or UNES) was the largest political party, exercising considerable influence.

National Democratic Action: Daniel Noboa and Verónica Abad
Businessman and former legislator Daniel Noboa and businesswoman Verónica Abad were the first to register with the CNE. Noboa and Abad are sponsored by the right-wing National Democratic Action Alliance (ADN), made up of the People, Equality and Democracy Movement (PID), and the Green, Ethical, Revolutionary and Democratic Movement (MOVER) parties.

The 35-year-old Noboa is the son of one of the richest businessmen in Ecuador Álvaro Noboa, sometimes referred to as the “banana baron”. The elder Álvaro has run for president six times but never winning. Daniel Noboa served as president of the Economic Development Commission in the National Assembly dissolved by Lasso. His running mate, Abad, 46, ran for the mayor of Cuenca for the AMIGO movement but was defeated.

AMIGO: Bolívar Armijos and Linda Romero
Lawyer Bolívar Armijos and television presenter Linda Romero are sponsored by the centrist Independent Mobilizing Action Generating Opportunities (AMIGO) party.

The 47-year-old Armijos was president of the National Council of Parochial Governments of Ecuador (CONAGPORE). Previously, he was a member of the Citizens Revolution Movement. In the 2021 general elections, he ran for the National Assembly for the Correismo alliance. His running mate, Romero, is also the president of Fundación Mujeres Reales, a motivational coaching platform for women.

Build Ecuador: Fernando Villavicencio and Andrea González
Journalist and former legislator Fernando Villavicencio and environmental engineer Andrea González were next to enroll in the race. They are standing in the elections with the support of the center-right Build Ecuador Movement.

Villavicencio, 59, served as the president of the Oversight and Political Control Commission of the now dissolved National Assembly. A devout “enemy” of the Citizens Revolution, he was accused of “disloyalty and subversion” by Correa in 2014 and forced to flee to the jungle to escape arrest. The charges against him were later dropped. His running mate, González, 36, was a candidate for the National Assembly for the Honesty alliance in the last elections.

Actuemos: Otto Sonnenholzner and Erika Paredes
Former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner and environmentalist Erika Paredes registered themselves next as a presidential ticket. The duo is running for the centrist Actuemos alliance, formed by the Avanza and Suma parties.

Former vice-president Otto Sonnenholzner

Sonnenholzner, 40, is an economist and was the vice president of Ecuador between December 2018 and July 2020 in the government of Lenín Moreno. He left office in the midst of a health emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, he indicated his opposition to some of Moreno’s policies and it was speculated he would run for president in the 2021 elections but did not. He holds a graduate business degree from Harvard University.

His running mate, Paredes, worked for more than 10 years in the United Nations, managing mechanisms that allow financing, designing and implementing health, education, environment and infrastructure projects.

Country Without Fear: Jan Topic and Diana Jácome
Businessman Jan Topic and lawyer and journalist Diana Jácome are also contesting for the conservative Country Without Fear alliance, made up of the Social Christian Party (PSC), the Patriotic Society party and the Democratic Center party.

Topic, who is 40 years old, is a businessman, a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion and a veteran of wars in the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Djibouti and Syria. He most recently participated in the Ukraine-Russia conflict and fought against Russian troops. His major campaign focus is to fight drug trafficking in the country.

His running mate, Jácome, also 40, is recognized for having been a television presenter on channels managed by the government since the time of Correísmo.

Claro Que Se Puede: Yaku Pérez and Nory Pinela
The former prefect of Azuay Province and former presidential candidate Yaku Pérez is running for president for the second time with running mate Nory Pinela. This time, he is supported by the centriist Claro Que Se Puede alliance, formed by Popular Unity, Ecuadorian Socialist Party, Yes Democracy and We Are Water parties. Unofficially, he also has won the backing of many members of the indigenous Pachakutik Party.

The 54-year-old Pérez is an Indigenous environmentalist who advocates the elimination of most mining in Ecuador. Pérez finished third in the 2021 presidential race and was widely blamed by Correistas for the defeat of Citizen Revolution’s Arauz in the run-off against Lasso. Although he considers himself a center-leftist, Pérez is open to a wide-range of proposals and cooperation with the U.S. in business and security matters. His running mate, Pinela, has extensive experience in academic fields.

Many experts believe Pérez presents the strongest challenge to the Citizens Revolution’s González.

Challenge Movement: Xavier Hervas and Luz Marina Vega
Former presidential candidate Xavier Hervas and Luz Marina Vega are running for the center-right Challenge Movement party.

Hervas, 50, ran in the 2021 presidential elections with the center-left Democratic Left (ID) party. He finished in fourth place in the first round. He served as financial adviser at the economic ministry between 2007 and 2009 and was general director of the Central Bank of Ecuador from 2009 to 2011.

His running mate, Vega, in 2019 received the title “Doctor Honoris Causa in Medicine,” awarded by the World Humanistic University, for her work in the healthcare sector.

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