Who's who in Ecuador's presidential election

The second round of voting will take place on 11 April
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PHOTO/ Consejo Nacional Electoral  -   Ecuadorian presidential candidates Andrés Arauz (left) and Guillermo Lasso pose for photographs before a televised debate ahead of the presidential election run-off on 11 April

After a turbulent first round in which the indigenous candidate Yaku Pérez demanded a recount of the votes due to the small margin that separated him from the banker Guillermo Lasso, who finally made it to the second round, on 11 April Lasso and the pro-Correa candidate Andrés Arauz will face each other again at the polls.

For the moment, Lasso has received the support of Fran Hervías, former candidate of Izquierda Democrática, who obtained 15.68% of the votes; however, the party has refused to support any of the candidates, as stated in the communiqué published by the president of the party, Guillermo Herrera, on his Twitter account.

On the other hand, Yaku Pérez (19.39% of votes in the first round) has refused to support him and insists that there was electoral fraud which prevented him from standing against the Correista candidate in the second round. 

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AFP/RODRIGO BUENDIA - Combo of images of Ecuadorian presidential candidate for the "Union for Hope" party Andrés Arauz (L) and Ecuadorian presidential candidate for the "Creating Opportunities" movement Guillermo Lasso (R) during their campaigns

Moreover, it is hard to imagine that the progressive voters of Pérez and Hervías would support a candidate of the traditional right, and as the campaign progresses the polls are increasingly showing a victory for Andrés Arauz.

Guillermo Lasso, third time lucky?

65 years old and a native of the western city of Guayaquil, this is the third time he has tried to reach the Carondelet Palace. In addition to working at Banco Guayaquil and the stock exchange, he has held public office. In 1999, he was Minister of Economy in the government of Jamil Mahuad, and only a year earlier he had served as governor of the state of Guayas. In 2003, he last held public office as Ecuador's ambassador-at-large during the presidency of Lucio Gutiérrez.

Lasso has repeatedly recounted his humble origins; he entered the banking sector at the age of 22 and did not enter politics until he was 43. He belongs to the conservative CREO (Creando Oportunidades) movement, founded in 2012.

His disadvantages include having been Minister of Economy during one of the biggest economic crises that the Latin American country has experienced, and representing the business elite. Five months before taking the reins of the country's economy, the well-known episode of the bank holiday took place, in which the government decreed a freeze on deposits for a year, despite the fact that in principle it would only be for one day. Although Lasso was not part of the government when the measure was taken, his status as a banker earned him numerous accusations of having benefited from it.

In 2017, the publication of the 'Paradise Papers' by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was another blow to Lasso's image as his name appeared among the businessmen, politicians, sportsmen and celebrities who hid part of their wealth in tax havens. 

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AP/DOLORES OCHOA - Presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso, representing the Creando Oportunidades or CREO party, arrives at a campaign rally in Quito, Ecuador

Lasso was a presidential candidate for the first time in 2013, when he obtained 22.68% of the votes, far behind Rafael Correa, who won the presidency in the first round with 57.17%. His second round was in 2017, and on that occasion he did come close to victory, falling just under 3% short of the hitherto president Lenín Moreno.

Although at the beginning of this campaign it seemed that the scenario was favourable for Lasso, in the end he obtained a lower percentage than expected in the first round. In addition, his party suffered a setback in the legislative elections, which were held simultaneously, losing up to 22 deputies and being the last parliamentary force in the National Assembly, which, if he were to become president, would make his executive work difficult.

Andrés Arauz, the young man in Correa's shadow

If Arauz wins the election, it would mean the return of the so-called "Citizen's Revolution", as the years of Rafael Correa's government are known. Arauz entered politics back in 2007 when he served as an advisor to the Ministry of Economic Policy Coordination at the age of 22. Later, in 2011, he became director general of banking at the Central Bank.

During the decade of Correa's government, he held several portfolios, including those of undersecretary general for Good Living, coordinating minister of Knowledge and Human Talent, and minister of Culture and Heritage.

The 36-year-old economist aspires to revive the policies of the Correa era and bring the Ecuadorian left back to power after Lenín Moreno's term in office, which was marked by a shift to the centre in economic matters and greater alienation with Washington in foreign policy. 

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AFP/CRISTINA VEGA RHOR - Ecuadorian presidential candidate Andrés Arauz (C) gives a thumbs-up as he poses with a supporter at the start of the election campaign in the El Beaterio sector of Quito

Although Moreno was part of Alianza País, the political movement to which Correa also belonged, a few months after assuming the presidency, Moreno dismissed Jorge Glas, Correa's natural successor, as vice-president, which led to a rift between the former president and the current president of Ecuador. Then came the ideological drift.

Curiously, Arauz will not be able to vote because after the end of Correa's government he left for Mexico to pursue his doctorate in economics, so he is still registered there, although he will accompany the candidate for vice-president, journalist Carlos Rabascall, to the polling station.

He is also currently a member of the Executive Council of Progressive International, an organisation founded just over a year ago by leaders and individuals associated with the left worldwide. He is also a member of the Puebla Group, an association that brings together presidents, former presidents and other politicians of the Latin American left.

In this line of betting on international and regional cooperation, he announced that his intention is for Ecuador to return to UNASUR, whose abandoned headquarters are located precisely in the country's capital