Andrés Arauz and Guillermo Lasso were forced to face each other on television before going to the polls for the presidency of Ecuador. The candidate of Unión por la Esperanza and that of the CREO-PSC alliance starred this Sunday in their first face to face in an unavoidable presidential debate after the latest reform of the Democracy Code, the law that regulates electoral processes in the Andean country. But more than a space to publicize their proposals and confront those of the rival, both aspirants to lead a country over-indebted and hard hit by the covid-19 pandemic economically and socially, the two opted for a strategy of wear from the first minute.
Andrés Arauz, chosen by Rafael Correa to represent his new acronym —UNES—, received the first ailment. Guillermo Lasso, with a conservative and economically liberal tendency, alluded to Arauz’s proposal to put dollars “in quarantine”, as a way to stop the outflow of foreign currency from the country with tariff impositions. Lasso questioned the proposal, warning that it could generate an “economic freeze” in the country. But the 36-year-old candidate was prepared, having spent the entire campaign trying to dispel the idea that if he becomes president there are no guarantees that he will maintain dollarization as a monetary system in Ecuador. With a gimmicky gesture, the UNES candidate took out a 20 dollar bill, assured that he will keep the coin and marked the inertia of what would be two long hours of crossing private accusations.
Little or nothing was spoken in the only face-to-face between the two candidates about problems such as national insecurity or state corruption. In the debates that were held in the first round, the two candidates with the most options did not cross paths, due to the lottery of shifts between the 16 candidates who started the electoral contest.
This Sunday did not delve into proposals from feminist or LGTBI groups that, however, have occupied the candidates’ agenda in the last weeks of the campaign before the April 11 tiebreaker. On the issues that were addressed in the thematic blocks introduced by the moderator Claudia Arteaga, none of the presidential hopefuls went into depth enough to clarify to the voters how they will make their promises to create jobs, grant scholarships or straighten the law come true. economy when one of the two takes the reins of a country that runs a budget deficit of 7.6 billion dollars in 2021.
Arauz insisted on appealing to Guillermo Lasso’s professional past as a director of the Banco de Guayaquil to question whether he will make decisions that benefit the country or its businesses, while CREO insisted on mentioning Rafael Correa as the “boss” or the “father politician ”of Arauz who will rule in the shadows from Belgium. “Look what your boss said, your political father: the head of state is the head of all functions,” Lasso blamed Arauz in the section of questions about separation of powers. The UNES candidate eluded the challenge by ironically: “Hey, you even dream of Correa.”
With social polarization as an electoral trend, Ecuadorians will return to the polls in three weeks for the second round of the presidential elections. In the first electoral call on February 7, Andrés Arauz was the winner with 32.72 of the votes, but without a sufficient advantage to avoid the tiebreaker, and Guillermo Lasso, in second place, obtained 19.74% of support among the voters, with a minimal difference with respect to the third ranked, the indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, who reached 19.39%.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.