Ecuadorians choosing a new president amid increasing violence that may scare away voters

by Sophia Chen
fokus keyword Ecuador's presidential election

Ecuador is gearing up for a unique presidential election on Sunday, where a new leader will be chosen under the shadow of unprecedented violence, which includes a recent assassination of a candidate. The rising unrest in the once peaceful South American nation is so severe that military and police forces numbering over 100,000 have been deployed to secure the election.

Among the leading contenders are an ally of former President Rafael Correa, who lives in exile, and a millionaire known for his security background and who pledges to take a hard line against crime.

Despite the extensive security measures, some Ecuadorians are so afraid of the prevailing criminal threats that they plan to stay home on election day, even though failing to vote could incur a penalty.

The political climate was further shaken when Fernando Villavicencio was murdered on August 9, making his the third and most high-profile political killing this year. His death has only increased public fears of being victimized by robberies, kidnappings, homicides, and other crimes that have become all too familiar.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata has announced that the only voting restriction will be a backpack inspection, banning street vendors near the voting centers.

The election was triggered after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly in May to fend off impeachment, stemming from accusations of neglecting to end a faulty contract with a private tanker company. He chose not to seek re-election in this special election.

Interestingly, the ballots still include the name of the assassinated Villavicencio, even though he was not considered a top candidate.

The front-runner is Luisa González, an affiliate of Correa’s party, followed by Jan Topic, known as the “Ecuadorian Rambo,” and Otto Sonnenholzner, who played a key role in managing the country’s pandemic response. Also in the race is Yaku Pérez, an Indigenous candidate focusing on environmental protection.

To win in the first round, a candidate must secure 50% of the votes or at least 40% with a 10-point lead. A runoff, if necessary, would be held on October 15, and the victor will complete the remainder of Lasso’s term, less than two years.

In addition to the presidential race, voters will elect a new National Assembly and decide on two ballot measures concerning environmental protection in the Amazon jungle and the Andean Choco region.

With mandatory voting for citizens aged 18 to 64 and a fine of about $45 for non-compliance, the election emphasizes the nation’s strife with violence. Six Colombian men were arrested in relation to Villavicencio’s murder, and candidates have ramped up their security, with one even donning a bulletproof vest at a rally.

The incoming president will face challenges not only in restoring safety but also in reviving an economy still reeling from the pandemic. Projections from the Central Bank have reduced the growth expectation for 2023, and the country’s oil revenue and tax collections have declined.

Unemployment and insecurity are widespread, affecting citizens like Sandra Jarrín, who lost her job four years ago and has yet to find a new one. The pervasive atmosphere of fear and uncertainty encapsulates the mood of a nation at a pivotal moment in its history, seeking leadership that can navigate the multifaceted crises at hand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Ecuador election

When is Ecuador’s special presidential election taking place?

The special presidential election in Ecuador is scheduled for Sunday.

Who are the front-runners in the election?

The front-runners include Luisa González, an ally of former President Rafael Correa, and millionaire Jan Topic, who promises to be tough on crime.

Why was this special election called?

President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly in May to avoid impeachment over allegations that he failed to intervene in a faulty contract. He decided not to run in the special election, necessitating the vote.

What measures are being taken to ensure safety during the election?

Over 100,000 police and soldiers have been deployed to protect against violence during the election, and backpacks will be inspected at voting centers.

What other issues are being decided in this election?

Besides the presidential race, voters are electing a new National Assembly and deciding two ballot measures related to stopping oil extraction in part of the Amazon jungle and authorizing the exploitation of minerals in the Andean Choco region.

What are the consequences for not voting in the election?

Voting is mandatory for Ecuadorian citizens ages 18 through 64, and those who don’t comply face a fine of about $45.

What is the economic context in which this election is taking place?

The new president will need to address an economy still struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s Central Bank has reduced its growth expectation for 2023, and there has been a decline in oil revenue and tax collections.

Who was the candidate that was assassinated?

Candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated on August 9 as he left a campaign rally, heightening fears and contributing to the overall climate of violence and insecurity.

What environmental issues are at stake in the election?

There are two ballot measures concerning environmental protection. One addresses whether to stop oil extraction in a portion of the Amazon jungle, and the other asks whether to authorize the exploitation of minerals like gold, silver, and copper in forests of the Andean Choco around Quito.

How long will the winner of the special election serve as president?

The winner will govern only for the remainder of Lasso’s unfinished term, meaning less than two years.

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Timothy R. August 20, 2023 - 12:37 pm

What about the economy, its in shambles! The new president will have a lot on their plate. Does any1 know what the plans are to boost growth?

Sara Jenkins August 20, 2023 - 1:59 pm

So many issues at stake. The environmental concerns are as important as security. Who is going to address these? The situation seems so complex.

Alex M. August 20, 2023 - 11:05 pm

Mandatory voting but people are scared to leave their homes… what a contradiction. Seems like a mess! How they handle this will define their future, its crucial.

Maria Gonzalez August 21, 2023 - 1:35 am

The assassination of a candidate? This is too much. I’m praying for the people of Ecuador. i hope they find the right leader, someone who can bring peace

Nina K August 21, 2023 - 5:09 am

Unemployment, insecurity, corruption! Where is the country headed? Hope the election will bring about a change but I’m not so sure. they need real solutions, not empty promises.

John Smith August 21, 2023 - 6:20 am

Wow, can’t belive what’s happening in Ecuador! They have to do something about this crime, its going crazy. who’s gonna want to vote in this chaos?


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