Ecuador holds presidential debate today

Candidates will face-off today in the second of two debates leading up to Ecuador’s presidential election on February 7. In

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Photo: El Comercio/EFE

Candidates will face-off today in the second of two debates leading up to Ecuador’s presidential election on February 7.

In a crowded field there are three leading candidates: Andrés Arauz from the centre-left Democratic Centre party, Guillermo Lasso from the centre-right Creating Opportunities party, and Yaku Pérez from the leftist-indigenist Pachakutik party. Incumbent Lenín Moreno, whose 2017 victory broke a decade-long trend of populism characterised by misinformation, censorship, and executive control under then-president Rafael Correa, is not contesting the election due to a poor approval rating stemming from his handling of the county’s economic crisis, exacerbated by COVID-19. Arauz is Correa’s former cabinet minister and protégé and is running on a correísmo platform.

It is unlikely that Arauz will garner the votes he needs for outright victory on February 7, but his populist message during a time of austerity should at least win him a spot in a runoff election. Should Lasso and Pérez, who both oppose Arauz’s Correa-era policies, also make it to the second round, expect the anti-correísmo vote to split between them, opening a path to victory for Arauz and heralding a return to populism in Ecuador that could hinder its economic recovery.

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