Eight presidential candidates enter Ecuador’s early election race

Facing impeachment, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso made the extraordinary move of dissolving the legislature and calling early elections.

Quito elections
Supporters of the Citizen Revolution Movement hold a banner with an image of former President Rafael Correa as they cheer on their presidential candidate for the upcoming early elections in Quito, Ecuador [Dolores Ochoa/The Associated Press]

Eight presidential candidates have registered to face off when Ecuadoreans head to the polls for early elections on August 20.

The polls will cap an extraordinary series of events that saw President Guillermo Lasso dissolve the opposition-controlled National Assembly and cut his own term short instead of facing impeachment proceedings.

To do so, Lasso invoked a constitutional mechanism commonly known as “muerte cruzada” or “two-way death” — which had never been used before. But the manoeuvre meant Lasso would not finish his six-year term, which was set to end in May 2025.

The winner of the August presidential election will instead hold office until then, at which point regularly scheduled elections will resume. August’s vote will also determine the membership of the 137-seat Congress.

Lasso and his centre-right party Creating Opportunities will not participate in the presidential or legislative elections.

Who has declared?

Luisa Gonzalez: The Citizen Revolution Movement, a party founded by former leftist President Rafael Correa, nominated Gonzalez as its presidential candidate. A lawyer, Gonzalez held several positions in the Correa government, including as secretary of public administration in 2017. She was recently a federal lawmaker for the province of Manabi. If elected, she has said she will call a constituent assembly to rewrite Ecuador’s constitution.

Luisa Gonzalez
Presidential candidate Luisa Gonzalez waves to supporters after registering her candidacy for the upcoming early elections in Quito, Ecuador [Dolores Ochoa/The Associated Press]

Jan Topic: Chosen by the conservative Social Christian Party (PSC), which joined in impeachment proceedings against Lasso, Topic has touted his military experience. The soldier-turned-businessman has said he is uniquely situated to address spiking gang violence in the country of about 17 million.

Yaku Perez: The Indigenous leader will represent a political coalition in his second run for the presidency. Perez saw a surprise surge of support during the first round of the 2021 presidential election, after running on a platform to fight oil and mining activities in the country. He came in third after Lasso and Andres Arauz.

Yaku Perez
Indigenous rights and environmentalist activist Yaku Perez saw an unexpected surge in the 2021 presidential election [Dolores Ochoa/The Associated Press]

Otto Sonnenholzner: Former vice president to Lenín Moreno, Sonnenholzner stepped down amid a raft of administration resignations in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged Ecuadorean cities. Nevertheless, his national profile grew as he worked to deliver supplies to hard-hit areas and revive the country’s economy.

Otto Sonnenholzner has registered to run to be Ecuador’s next president [Dolores Ochoa/The Associated Press]

Xavier Hervas: The businessman ran for president in 2021, coming in fourth in the first round, despite having little in the way of a national profile before the vote. He is supported by the centre-right RITO movement.

Fernando Villavicencio: Journalist and political activist Villavicencio has long been a critic of the country’s national oil company. He has accused the administration of former President Correa of targeting him for his criticism as he faced a series of charges related to his public statements. He at times hid among Indigenous groups in the jungle and briefly sought asylum in Peru before the charges against him were dropped. Villavicencio then served in the National Assembly, from 2017 until it was dissolved by Lasso.

Ecuadorian journalist Fernando Villavicencio has registered to run to be Ecuador’s next president. [AFP]

Bolívar Armijos: Armijos is a lawyer and former head of a council of local governments.

Daniel Noboa: A businessman, Noboa is the son of magnate Álvaro Noboa, who sought the presidency five times. The younger Noboa, meanwhile, served in the National Assembly for the United Ecuadorian political movement from 2021 until the legislature was dissolved this year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies