Electoral authorities announced “firm” certification of the electoral alliance Union Por La Esperanza (UNES — Union for Hope), which stands an excellent chance of winning elections scheduled for February next year.
The certification appears to have concluded years-long efforts to obstruct left electoral forces allied with former President Rafael Correa from participating in elections and opens the door for voters to return them to power.
Ecuador's National Electoral Council (CNE) President Diana Atamaint made the announcement on December 8, confirming the ticket comprising Andrés Arauz for President, Carlos Rabascall for Vice-President and UNES candidates for the National Assembly.
Arauz welcomed the decision, tweeting: “#ThePresidentialTicketOfHope will be on the ballot on #7thFebruary. Thanks to everyone who was vigilant and mobilised! Thanks for international solidarity! The Ecuadorian people have enforced their right to choose in a democracy.”
Arauz also sounded a warning that some in the establishment are looking for a way to postpone the elections because they fear they cannot win.
In an interview with Periodismo Público Arauz said: “I still do not rule out that this is the intention with other candidates who are postponing. But we are already on the ballot and that is a joy for all the Ecuadorian people who will be able to decide their future and their destiny.”
Arauz has claimed that elements of the government wish to postpone the elections to carry out privatisations, because they fear he will win and put a stop to it. People's Dispatch reported that the government has begun privatising the state-owned oil company, Esmeraldas Refinery, and the electricity company, Electricity Corporation of Ecuador (CELEC), among others.
Rabascall told Lahaine.org: “[President Lenín] Moreno is five months away from leaving his mandate. He has tried to privatise the telephone companies, the hydroelectric companies, the refineries, the telecommunications, among other companies. Now they want to stay in power in order to implement these privatisations."
One key issue in the election is Ecuador's relationship with international banks. Rabascall told Lahaine.com: “Just as [Argentinian President] Alberto Fernandez did, we have to tell the IMF: 'Gentlemen, we cannot comply with the conditions that you put on Ecuador'. By 2021, the organisation demands that we reduce by three billion dollars the expense of wages. That would mean cuts in health, education, security and justice.”
Former president Rafael Correa isn't running. UNES tried to get him certified as its vice-presidential candidate and was denied, before Rabascall was tapped on the shoulder.
Correa is an issue in the election as he is a huge bogeyman for the establishment and there has been a protracted campaign against him and those associated with him. There has been more than three years of daily propaganda against Correa by all major media outlets, private and public. There have been legal prosecutions against Correa, including a controversial conviction.
On the other hand, Correa remains a hero and a champion of the poor to many, who see Moreno as a traitor to their cause. “Moreno came to power with the progressives and is said to have betrayed Correa. But it is not so. He betrayed the Ecuadorian people who had elected him to continue the Citizens Revolution process,” Rabascall told Lahaine.com.
Arauz and Rabascall will compete in the elections, scheduled for February 7, against a field of 16 other presidential tickets. These include Alvaro Noboa, a banana plantation magnate, who has run for President six times before, and whose candidacy was also approved by the CNE on December 8.
The establishment has consolidated behind the candidacy of Guillermo Lasso, who heads an alliance of Ecuador's two largest right-wing parties.
A majority of polls show Lasso in a close race with Arauz, with neither of them having enough support to win in the first round. Running third in the polls is Yaku Perez, candidate for the Movimiento de Unidad Plurinacional Pachakutik (Pachakutik United Plurinational Movement) an Indigenous party. Perez has led struggles to limit mining and has called for popular referendums on the issue.
The addition of the very wealthy Noboa could shake up the race, but it is not known how much as he has not been included in most polls. The candidate for Moreno’s governing party Alianza PAIS, Ximena Peña, has been polling at less than 2%.
The accuracy of polling in Ecuador is suspect. Polls in nearby Bolivia were wildly inaccurate regarding that country's recent presidential election. The majority of polls in Bolivia predicted that Luis Arce, candidate of the Movement for Socialism, would be forced into a runoff which he would probably lose, but Arce won easily in the first round with 55% of the vote, 25% more than the leading establishment candidate.
A question is whether corporate polling organisations accurately poll poor workers, farmers and Indigenous peoples.