Ecuador prepares to elect a new president 

On 11 April, Ecuadorians will go to the polls to elect their next head of state in the second round of the presidential elections
AFP/RODRIGO BUENDIA - Combo de imágenes  del candidato presidencial ecuatoriano por el partido "Unión por la Esperanza" Andrés Arauz (I) y el candidato presidencial ecuatoriano por el movimiento "Creando Oportunidades" Guillermo Lasso (D) durante sus campañas

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

Andrés Arauz and Guillermo Lasso ended their campaign on 9 April, both of them met with their supporters to end one of the most polarised campaigns in Ecuador. A rather atypical electoral campaign, since during these months they have had to change the typical mass rallies for urban caravans and rallies with controlled seating capacity. Arauz said goodbye to the campaign in the Cumadá sector, with some 3,000 people in an open-air space, while Lasso did so in Ecuador's most important financial city, Guayaquil, his voters gathered in boats on the banks of the Guayas River. 

"We can mention many good things about the work we have done, but we would not have enough time to express them. Dear President, we have reviewed your proposal in detail and found your desire to return dignity, employment, development and prosperity to the country; this has become your passion and a commitment to Ecuador," said Arauz's campaign coordinator at the rally. The rally lasted until the last hour they were allowed, due to the curfew. The campaign team set up a giant tent in front of the cultural centre of Cumadá, where they handed out masks in the colours of the political party "Fuerza Compromiso Social". The protocol of the event did not work very well, as the organisers, through megaphones, demanded that the participants keep their distance from each other. When the candidate entered the stage, the crowd pressed against the stage. But, "little by little, as we went around our country, as we explained that what we were living through was not an accident of history, we explained to them that there is a way to have a dignified management of the economy, of health, of education, that there are always alternatives and that we could not buy into the story of the media narrative of the current government", said Arauz. 

- Combo de imágenes  del candidato presidencial ecuatoriano por el partido "Unión por la Esperanza" Andrés Arauz (I) y el candidato presidencial ecuatoriano por el movimiento "Creando Oportunidades" Guillermo Lasso (D) durante sus camp

One of the great moments came when the rally screens showed a video of former president Rafael Correa, from Belgium where he has been living since 2017, as in Ecuador he is facing an eight-year prison sentence for the crime of "bribery"; the Public Prosecutor's Office accuses him of being at the head of an organisation that received money from state contractors and he is also politically disqualified, which is why he could not run as vice-president alongside Arauz. "On Sunday they will do everything possible so that we don't win... Any disagreement will be discussed the day after the victory", were his words in the video, an indirect way of referring to the current president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, who Correa considers a traitor, since Moreno became president in 2017, with the support of Rafael Correa.

AP/DOLORES OCHOA - El candidato presidencial Guillermo Lasso, en representación del partido Creando Oportunidades o CREO, llega a una reunión durante su campaña en Quito, Ecuador
AP/DOLORES OCHOA - Presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso, representing the Creando Oportunidades or CREO party, arrives at a campaign rally in Quito, Ecuador.

In the city of Guayaquil, the candidate of the party "Movimiento CREO" (centre right), will seek to overturn the numbers of the first round, where Arauz was almost 13 points ahead. The candidate Guillermo Lasso, decided to say goodbye to the campaign in a symbolic place for Ecuadorians, "at the foot of the majestic and mighty Guayas River, pride of Ecuador," said Lasso. The motorcade of boats was notable for the number of Ecuadorian and party flags present. The candidate who appealed to the future said in his speech: "Our country is now experiencing the greatest historical crisis: health, economic, values and insecurity. We need to put an end to so much irresponsibility and open a period of progress, in which we can live better". 

The latest polls point to a technical tie between the two candidates, meaning that Guillermo Lasso has closed the 13-point gap from the first round. On the other hand, the trend in recent months is showing a fall in the intention to vote for the left-wing candidate Andrés Arauz. It is worth noting that Ecuadorian electoral law does not allow the release of poll results 10 days before the election, which makes it more difficult to predict what might happen on Sunday 11 April. 

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.