According to some Alianza Pais (AP) members, the political party that has held Ecuador’s presidency for 12 years, needs to redefine its purpose. “The party desperately needs a new direction if it is to be a force in the next election and beyond,” says Ximena Peña, a member of the National Assembly, suggesting that AP should reestablish its connection with Ecuador’s leftist as well as centrist movements.
Party leadership agrees and says an AP convention, planned for October or November, will chart a new course and set new objectives.
With President Lenin Moreno’s decision not to run for reelection, executive director Gustavo Baroja acknowledges that AP must reestablish its appeal to the voters that have supported it since former president’s Rafael Correa’s election in 2006.
“At the convention, we will look for public policies that can benefit not only our center left base but the entire electorate,” Baroja says. ”Most of all we must reestablish the legitimacy of our leadership.”
Although Baroja says the party should begin to identify potential candidates for the next election, he says it is too early to name names. “First, given the controversies and rifts of recent years, we must first decide who we are and what we stand for.”
Determining what AP stands for will be no easy matter, according to Carlos Espinosa, political analyst and lecturer at San Francisco University in Quito. “At the moment, Alianza Pais appears rudderless. Its leaders say they need to reconnect with its leftist roots but Moreno continues the move to the right and away from the policies of the Correa era,” he says. “The break with the Correistas has caused serious damage to the party and it is an open question if that can be repaired. Moreno’s uninspiring leadership certainly doesn’t help matters”
Specifically, Espinosa says that Moreno’s loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and his continuation of Correa’s mining and oil exploration policies have alienated much of AP’s traditional base.
Privately, some AP members wonder whether the party can survive as a major political force. “To accomplish anything in the Assembly, we are forced to join with conservatives and centrists,” says an assemblyman who did want to be identified. “The table is set for a conservative victory in the next national election,” he adds.
Although Espinosa agrees that the next president will probably be a centrist conservative, either former Guayaquil major Jaime Nebot or Guillermo Lasso, he says establishing effective leadership in the country will be difficult. “I think the next Assembly will be extremely fractured between the conservatives, what is left of AP, Correa supporters and new movements. We could be in for a period of political gridlock if not chaos, some of which we are already experiencing.”