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Ecuador to hold presidential, parliamentary elections

Ecuadorians will also take part in a referendum. The issue of whether civil servants should be prohibited to own property through offshore companies will be submitted to the vote

QUITO, February 19. /TASS/. Ecuador will hold the presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday. Residents of that South American country are to elect the head of state, vice president, 137 members of the National Assembly (Ecuador’s unicameral parliament - TASS) and five lawmakers who will represent the country in the Andean Parliament, the governing and deliberative body of the Andean Community.

Ecuadorians will also take part in a referendum described by local media as an "ethical pact." The issue of whether civil servants should be prohibited to own property through offshore companies will be submitted to the vote.

There are eight presidential candidates in Ecuador. Incumbent head of state, Rafael Correa, whose third presidential term will expire in May is not among them.

The previous version of Ecuador’s Constitution allowed the president to be reelected no more than two times in a row. In December 2015, amendments abolishing this restriction were passed, but only for a candidate who won the presidential race no earlier than 2017. Some pro-government civic organizations demanded that the current president is allowed to be reelected too and even started to collect signatures under the corresponding address. However, Correa expressed his determination to resign.

According to polls, there are three major candidates for president. Ecuador’s former Vice President, Lenin Moreno, who represents the ruling Alianza Pais party uniting left and center-left forces is considered frontrunner of the presidential race. Correa chose this politician as a desirable successor.

Moreno has used a wheelchair to move around since 1998 when criminals who tried to rob him shot him in the back. Before the beginning of the election campaign he served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility. The fight for the rights of physically challenged people became an important part of his campaign. He also advocates the continuation of the current president’s socially oriented policy, the promotion of Ecuadorian goods abroad and better access to high-quality education.

The second most popular candidate, according to sociologists, is representative of the CREO center-right movement, former banker Guillermo Lasso. The main promise of his election campaign is the creation of a million jobs within the next four years. Lasso is also committed to developing entrepreneurship and attracting foreign investment.

The third place in the ranking is held by Cynthia Viteri who represents the right-wing Social Christian Party. A lawyer by training, she worked as a TV anchor for several years. Viteri who has five children promises to develop infrastructure, attract foreign investment to the country and bring down taxes and electricity prices.

To win the first round, a candidate must secure more than 50% of the votes or more than 40% provided that his lead over rivals is no less than 10%. If none of the candidates succeeds, the second round of elections will be held on April 2. Two candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes will take part in it.

The polling stations will be open from 07:00 local time (15:00 Moscow Time) to 17:00 (01:00 Moscow Time). The first official results are expected to be announced after 20:00 local time (04:00 Moscow Time).

Ecuador’s citizens aged over 16 are eligible to vote. Voting is compulsory for individuals aged between 18 and 65 permanently residing in their home country. For citizens aged between 16 and 18 and over 65 years as well as for illiterate people the voting is voluntary.

The president-elect will take office on May 24. His term of office is four years.