Lenin and Guillermo: Ecuador’s election

Ecuadorians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president and parliament. After three terms and more than

Photo: API

Photo: API

Ecuadorians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president and parliament. After three terms and more than a decade in power, President Rafael Correa is constitutionally limited from seeking another. This is despite a reform law being passed last year that does away with term limits – the country’s opposition, which controls the parliament, made sure the law comes into effect the day after Mr Correa steps down.

Lenin Moreno has been chosen as the banner bearer for Correa’s left-wing PAIS Alliance. A former vice president, Moreno espouses the same sort of expansionary socialism Correa was known for, promising to build more housing and provide more benefits for the poor. But the leftist candidate has been hurt by revelations of exuberant spending while in public office, racking up a travel bill of $3.9 million between 2007 and 2013.

Moreno’s main rival will be the centre-right’s Guillermo Lasso, a former banker. Lasso challenged for the presidency in 2013 but lost badly. He’s promised to roll back many of the socialist policies implemented by Correa, setting out a list of 14 taxes he wants to abolish.

A second-round vote will be held in April if no candidate wins at least 40% of the vote and also has a 10-point margin over the next challenger. Mr Moreno’s opinion poll dominance is clear; it’s the 10-point margin that could be his undoing as a runoff would result in the opposition vote coalescing around Mr Lasso.

Whoever wins on Sunday will face an economy mired in recession and a large budget deficit that’s fuelling public debt. But with term limits gone and an approval rating to be proud of, this won’t be the last the world hears about Rafael Correa; he’s hinted strongly that he’ll run again in 2021.

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