By Ociel Alí López – Jul 6, 2023
Less than a month after a surprise designation as the presidential candidate of the Citizens’ Revolution, polls show Luisa González as the favorite to win the elections in Ecuador, far ahead of her closest opponent.
Her candidacy’s strong point lies in being endorsed by the Citizens’ Revolution (RC) movement, led by former President Rafael Correa. This movement has won three consecutive presidential elections: firstly with Correa from 2007 to 2017, followed by Lenín Moreno’s term from 2017 to 2021. It was only in the 2021 presidential elections that the movement faced defeat in the runoff against current President Guillermo Lasso. González aims to avoid a similar scenario by securing victory in the first round.
The RC is placing its bets on the young leader from the province of Manabí in the western part of the country, who has the opportunity to make history as Ecuador’s first elected female president.
González, who was once part of Correa’s inner circle, is now trying to demonstrate unwavering loyalty to the former president during her campaigns. Her aim is to rally the staunch supporters of Correísmo and secure their crucial votes.
The RC movement needs to secure victory in the first round, slated for August 20, in order to prevent a runoff election in which, presumably, all forces will unite against González.
According to a survey by the pollster Estrategas, González is leading the field with 27.95% of the electoral preference.
She is followed by Otto Sonnenholzner (9%), Yaku Pérez (8%), and Fernando Villavicencio (8%). In the survey, the null vote has obtained 15% and the blank vote 11%.
In this election, the RC candidate brings more than just her gender as a novelty. She also identifies as an evangelical Christian and aims to challenge the prevailing notion, exemplified by Bolsonaro, that all Christian believers are conservative voters in Latin America.
However, above all, her candidacy will rejuvenate the powerful Correísta movement in order to overcome the scenario of 2021. Andrés Arauz, who won the first round in 2021 and garnered 47% in the second round, is her vice-presidential running mate.
The pitfalls for González
As mentioned earlier, the new leader of Correísmo aims to secure a victory in the first round, which would require her to obtain more than 50% of the votes or achieve 40% of the votes while surpassing her closest opponent by a margin of at least 10%.
Based on the current political-electoral landscape, as indicated by the latest polls, there are at least three other candidates who are competing for the second spot to potentially enter a runoff in October. It appears certain that González has already secured her position. However, she would prefer to avoid a second round altogether to prevent the formation of a new alliance against her movement.
The RC ticket must secure the support of the 47% who voted for Arauz in the second round of the 2021 elections. This is crucial in order to surpass their nearest competitor by a margin of 10%, especially with the anti-Correísta vote divided among other candidates. Winning in the first round becomes essential for the RC to achieve this goal.
The Ecuadorian right wing has several candidates who will compete against each other for the conservative vote, which could facilitate González’s victory in August. However, the González-Arauz ticket may may face a significant impact from the candidacy of Yaku Pérez, as it could potentially draw away indigenous votes from the left, which forms the core base of Correísmo.
The rural, peasant, and indigenous vote is particularly contested, as Pérez obtained a substantial share in 2021. He aims to mobilize this demographic by advocating for null votes, similar to his strategy in the previous election, in an effort to disrupt the success of Correísmo.
The youth vote is also a significant contending factor, representing a key demographic that either does not recall or was not yet born during Correa’s administrations. They may not be influenced by the “restorationist” appeal of the RC candidate, which relies on nostalgia for the golden age of Correa’s governments. To win their support, the RC party will need to present a compelling and tailored proposition specifically designed for this young demographic.
Unlike the rest of the candidates, who have been in the political sphere for longer, González is more of an emerging figure. While she has actively participated in various capacities, including serving as a spokesperson for her parliamentary bloc in the National Assembly on multiple occasions, she has not garnered the same visibility or held significant governmental responsibilities like many other Correísta leaders. This factor contributed to the sense of surprise felt by many upon her nomination as the RC candidate.
The novelty of her participation as presidential aspirant may refresh Correísmo in its bid to win this election and return to political power in Ecuador.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Ociel Ali Lopez
Ociel Alí López is a political analyst, professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and contributor to various Venezuelan, Latin American, and European outlets. His book Dale más Gasolina won the municipal literature award in social research.
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