Feb. 17, 2017, 3:19 p.m.
Ecuador heads to the polls on Sunday, February 19th to vote for a new president, national assembly, and a referendum banning the use of tax havens by public officials. Under President CORREA, the government of Ecuador has remained staunchly left-wing since the "pink tide" rose in Latin America at the turn of the century. However, recent shifts to the right across the region have experts questioning if Ecuador may follow the trend.
Sunday marks the first presidential election in a decade without two-term President Rafael CORREA, the most popular president in decades credited with bringing stability to a country revenged by political and economic turmoil. However depressed oil prices over the last two years have sent Ecuador into a recession, placing CORREA's legacy in jeopardy as opinion polls demonstrate Ecuadorians believe the country needs a change.
The two favorites in the presidential race are Lenin MORENO of the PAIS Alliance Party, CORREA's former vice president, and Guillermo LASSO of the Creating Opportunities party. MORENO is heavily favored to win the first round vote this weekend but to fail to reach the majority needed to prevent a runoff. To many voters, MORENO represents the best of both worlds: more of the popular policies but with a new management style. LASSO is a former banker painting himself as the opposition and an alternative to the continuation of CORREA's policies. It is projected that he will lose the first round, but obtain enough votes to prevent MORENO from winning outright and force a run-off in April.
Parliamentary elections will be held alongside the presidential elections, with 116 of the 137 seats of Ecuador's National Assembly are awarded in single-seat constituencies while 15 are awarded nationally by proportional representation. The PAIS Alliance, the party of President CORREA, has been the majority party in the Assembly since 2009. While the Assembly is projected to be increasingly fragmented, it appears unlikely that PAIS will lose their majority.