Socialist, ecologist or banker: who will lead Ecuador?

·3-min read

On the left: a young economist versus a feisty indigenous campaigner. On the right: a sexagenarian former banker. These are the main contenders for Ecuador's presidency in elections on Sunday.

One of the three will replace incumbent Lenin Moreno, who came to power with leftist support in 2017 only to turn a right corner and cut aid in a country in dire economic straits.

- Andres Arauz, socialist protege -

Leading in most polls is 35-year-old former Central Bank boss Andres Arauz.

He is the protege of socialist ex-president Rafael Correa, whose political influence remains strong in Ecuador despite a corruption conviction that disqualified him from running as Arauz's deputy.

Arauz is utterly unlike his temperamental and charismatic mentor.

Announcing his candidacy on Twitter last August, Arauz introduced himself as "'the perfect stranger' who knows and loves Ecuador and is committing himself to bringing our people out of the health and economic crisis."

Once a minister in Correa's cabinet, Arauz defines himself as a patriot, a democrat and progressive, and describes Moreno as a traitor to the socialist cause.

Arauz has vowed to pave the way for the political comeback of Correa, who claims his graft conviction is evidence of political persecution under Moreno. Correa is in Belgium, avoiding an eight-year jail term.

Arauz could pardon Correa or seek a judicial review of the case against him.

The presidential hopeful speaks English, French and Russian, and he plays the piano and accordion.

He is married and has a son.

- Guillermo Lasso, free market -

In April 2017, Lasso was only narrowly defeated in his second bid for the presidency by Moreno. Four years earlier, he was beaten by Correa, of whom he remains an ideological rival.

Now aged 65, he will try for a third time, hoping to overcome the 11 percentage points Arauz has on him in opinion polls.

A married father of five, Lasso was the youngest of 11 children from a middle-class family.

He started working at 15 and rose to become president of the Bank of Guayaquil, his home city, despite never finishing his economics degree.

Lasso, a Catholic, turned full-time to politics in 2012, serving as governor of the province of Guayas and as minister of the economy.

He describes himself as "tolerant" and "democratic." He has vowed to boost foreign investment in Ecuador, cut taxes and create a million jobs.

- Yaku Perez, indigenous ecologist -

A member of the Canari tribe, Perez sees himself as a defender of indigenous peoples rights and the environment and says he has been jailed four times for "defending the water."

The 51-year-old lawyer is the face of the indigenous peoples' movement which rose up in 2019 after fuel prices were raised under Moreno. Eleven people died and more than 1,300 were wounded in subsequent clashes.

The son of uneducated farmworkers, Perez hopes to be "the first son of an illiterate to become president".

Perez was born Carlos Ranulfo Perez, but in 2017 legally changed his name to Yaku Sacha Perez, which in Quechua means "Water of the Mountain".

He plays the saxophone and accordion, is an atheist, a vegan and yoga practitioner, and conducted much of his presidential campaign riding a bamboo bike in sandals.

Perez is a university professor, has four post-graduate degrees, and seven published books to his name on indigenous and environmental topics.

Widowed eight years ago, he has two daughters. His current partner is French-Brazilian journalist and activist Manuela Picq.