Sunday, August 20, 2023, the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening’s three core partners, including the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute, will support Ecuadoreans as they vote in rare snap elections. President Guillermo Lasso, who is not up for reelection, issued an executive decree this past May to dissolve the National Assembly and stop opposition politicians from impeaching him. As a result, the National Electoral Council, in line with a constitutional mandate, called for elections on the president, vice-president and 137 assembly members a year and a half earlier than planned.
Now, with this already exceptional backdrop to the electoral cycle, several extraordinary challenges put Ecuador’s democracy in jeopardy – particularly organized crime and three brazen assassinations that have rocked the country. In July, the mayor of the coastal town of Manta was shot. In early August, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, a former congressman and journalist, was also killed in a spray of bullets as he left a campaign rally. Then this week, as Villavicencio’s friend Christian Zurita, a journalist turned candidate stepped in to run in his place, Pedro Briones, a local leader in the northern province of Esmeraldas from “Revolución Ciudadana”, the party of former President Rafael Correa, was also killed. Now, in the midst of a 60-day state of emergency issued by President Lasso, Ecuadorians head to the polls.
Ecuador’s law requires one candidate to win more than 50% of the vote, or 40 % with a 10-point lead, or a runoff will be needed on October 15. So far, all indications show the likeliness that a second round will be required to finalize the presidency. Although Luisa González, the only female presidential candidate on the ballot for Revolución Ciudadana, according to polls, heads into elections with a secured 25% of the vote. She partially meets the two minimal criteria to win the first round: gain 40% of the vote and maintain a margin of at least 10% with the second candidate, which polls currently show to be Otto Sonnenholzner with 11 to 13% of the vote.
For more information on the consortium’s commitment to supporting democracy in Ecuador, keep an eye on this space.