Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
Elections 2021

Meet the Candidates: Ecuador

Ecuadorians will face starkly different options when they vote for president in February.

Peru Full List

This piece was updated on January 13

On February 7, Ecuadorians will vote for president among a wide range of options, including a young protégé of former President Rafael Correa, a pro-business conservative, and an indigenous leader. Below you’ll find information on the leading candidates in Ecuador’s presidential election, who were polling above 10 percent as of December 4, according to Cedatos. There are two rounds of voting. If no candidate receives over 50% of the votes, or 40% with a lead of more than 10 points over second place, in the first round, the two leading candidates will compete in a runoff on April 11. 

AQ also asked a dozen nonpartisan experts on Ecuador to help us identify where each candidate stands on two spectrums: left wing versus right wing, and nationalist versus globalist. The results are mapped on the charts below. We’ve published the average response, with a caveat: Platforms evolve, and so do candidates. We will occasionally update this page to reflect developments in the campaigns.

Andrés Arauz | Guillermo Lasso | Yaku Pérez

Andrés
Arauz

35, former government minister and central bank director

Democratic Center

“The president will be me, and Rafael Correa will be my principal adviser.”

HOW HE GOT HERE

Former President Rafael Correa chose Arauz, a young economist and loyal technocrat who served as his minister of knowledge and human talent, to lead his political movement’s ticket. Correa had wanted to run as Arauz’s vice president, but his hopes died when a court upheld a prior conviction on corruption charges.

WHY HE MIGHT WIN

Experts suggest about a fifth of Ecuadorians are committed correístas, so Correa’s endorsement alone could be enough to get Arauz to a runoff election. Voters may see the fresh-faced Arauz as a return to the good times of Correa’s decade in office, when high commodity prices helped the economy grow an average of about 3% annually.

WHY HE MIGHT LOSE

At just 35, Arauz’s inexperience could be seen as a gamble in such difficult times. He also must deal with the baggage associated with Correa’s corruption convictions (Arauz considers the charges political persecution).

WHO SUPPORTS HIM

A portion of Ecuador’s left who are ideologically aligned with the “21st-century socialism” championed by Correa and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Ecuadorians who benefited from Correa’s social and infrastructure programs.

WHAT HE WOULD DO

A critic of the IMF, Arauz promises to roll back President Lenín Moreno’s “neoliberal” policies and advocates for capital controls. One of his priorities is to relaunch the regional bloc UNASUR. He supports the construction of an oil refinery on Ecuador’s coast, a flagship project of Correa’s government that was never completed.

IDEOLOGY

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Guillermo
Lasso

65, businessman, former economy minister and governor

Creating Opportunities

“Correísmo is offering more of the past: a failure that includes corruption at all levels.”

HOW HE GOT HERE

Lasso is running for president for the third time. After a lucrative career in banking, he held short stints in government in the late 1990s and early 2000s, first as governor of Guayas province, then economy minister and itinerant ambassador. Lasso founded the Creando Oportunidades (Creating Opportunities — CREO) party to launch his 2013 presidential bid. After narrowly losing his second presidential race in 2017 to Lenín Moreno, Lasso contested the results, alleging fraud.

WHY HE MIGHT WIN

Lasso has more name recognition this time around and will pick up votes from CREO’s new coalition partner, the Social Christian Party (PSC). He will attract the anti-Correa vote, and stands a better chance against Arauz, a less popular correísta candidate than his 2017 opponent Moreno.

WHY HE MIGHT LOSE

Some say he lacks charisma and struggles to connect with voters. Voters may still hold Lasso responsible for the 1999 financial crisis, during which he was economy minister.

WHO SUPPORTS HIM

Business elites, social conservatives and the center-right. Lasso has strong support in Quito, and his alliance with the PSC will bring him support from Guayaquil.

WHAT HE WOULD DO

Analysts believe Lasso will probably comply with the IMF’s loan program, despite issuing a statement criticizing the deal and its proposed tax increases. Lasso has promised to create one million jobs as well as a universal health care system. He seeks to inject $1 billion of capital into the National Development Bank and has proposed an international anti-corruption commission with oversight from the OAS and the UN. A member of the Catholic group Opus Dei, Lasso staunchly opposes abortion.

IDEOLOGY

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Yaku
Pérez

51, former prefect of Azuay province

Pachakutik

“We are fighting correísmo and the right.”

HOW HE GOT HERE

A lawyer by training, Pérez is an environmental activist who has fought for water rights and protested against mining activity. He had a prominent role in the October 2019 anti-austerity protests and emerged as the leader of Pachakutik, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador’s political arm. Pérez served as the prefect of Azuay province, a position akin to governor, before resigning to run for president.

WHY HE MIGHT WIN

Pérez is an anti-Correa leftist, and could gain support from opponents of both Arauz and Lasso. His pro-environmental stance is popular with younger voters.

WHY HE MIGHT LOSE

Pérez is less well-known in the north of the country, where most of the population lives. Those who do know him might associate Pérez with violence during the 2019 protests. Some voters may be biased against Pérez because of his indigenous, non-Catholic background.

WHO SUPPORTS HIM

The indigenous community and environmentalists. Pérez hails from Cuenca in Ecuador’s southern highlands and will likely garner more votes from that region.

WHAT HE WOULD DO

Pérez’s plans are based on an economic model of sustainable development that protects the environment. He has promised to create a universal basic income. Unlike Lasso and Arauz, Pérez has refused to meet with IMF officials. He is against the tax increases in Ecuador’s IMF deal, and said he would review the deal if elected and call for a moratorium on debt payments if the debt is found to be “illegitimate”.

IDEOLOGY

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Tags: Ecuador, Ecuadorian elections, Elections 2021
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