Ecuadorians go to the polls on Sunday with a certainty and several unknowns. The only certainty is that the current president, Lenín Moreno, is preparing to leave office next May without sponsoring any candidate. The elections are held with 16 candidates who will dilute the votes, although opinion studies highlight two favorite names: Andrés Arauz, leader of the Unión por la Esperanza platform and promoted by former president Rafael Correa; and the conservative Guillermo Lasso, an old acquaintance of Ecuadorian politics, Minister of Economy during the 1999 financial crisis, former governor of Guayas, Guayaquil province, and today head of the CREO Movement.
In none of the available polls is there any candidate above the 50% necessary to win in the first round, and in the most recent polls there is not even the scenario of a victory of more than 40% and a margin of advantage of 10 points , another of the necessary conditions to avoid a tiebreaker. There is, it is true, an important difference in the methods of the surveys considered. Judging by the percentage of people included in the categories of null, blank or undecided vote, while some of them do seem to filter or recalibrate the data to obtain only the percentage of support estimated for each candidate (and therefore the value of the residual categories is almost zero), other survey houses do include high volumes of null, blank or undecided. But in any case, not even among those that eliminate doubting voters from the equation does any candidate achieve the necessary threshold.
The other central consensus in the polls is the favorable margin that Arauz has. All the studies contemplated since November 17 give it first place, either by a wide or a small margin. In no projection, however, is it above 40%. They also coincide with their main ideological rival, Guillermo Lasso, occupying the second position. And finally, there is consensus that the third party in contention would be the indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, far enough apart in all of them so that a second round between Arauz and Lasso is the most reasonable demographic expectation.
A possible second round would be held on April 11, in more than two months, as happened in the previous presidential elections. In 2017 Moreno, then Correa’s candidate, failed to prevail against Lasso in the first round and the final result was decided in another vote. The last time a candidate won the elections in the South American country without the need for a tiebreaker was in 2013. Correa had at that time a very broad electoral support and managed to revalidate his mandate with ease with 57% of the votes. The ex-president, still very present in the country’s political debate despite being installed in Belgium, ruled Ecuador for a decade.
The trend of the candidates for these elections is more difficult to extrapolate, among other reasons due to the aforementioned variety of methods, but also due to the scarcity of available polls. Only eleven are registered during the month of January; fourteen since Christmas Eve 2020. Thus, the steepness of the upward curve of Arauz, who was a former minister in Correa’s last stage, could be a statistical artifact. However, within the aforementioned precautions, what does seem reasonable to assume is that his candidacy is going to increase, and not less, among the citizens. The fragmentation of the options and the fact that his main rival, Lasso, is a well-known candidate and with a markedly conservative profile add to the equation that will decide the future of the Andean country next Sunday.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.