(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador’s main socialist opposition party picked a socially conservative lawyer as its candidate in the upcoming elections, putting her among the favorites to be the nation’s next president.
Luisa Gonzalez, 45, is close to former President Rafael Correa and will represent the Citizens’ Revolution Party in the Aug. 20 vote. She served in the national assembly until it was dissolved last month.
In speech to party members, Gonzalez pledged to cut the nation’s soaring crime rate, boost tourism and tackle inequality. Like Correa, she is a leftist on economic topics but conservative on many social questions, and is opposed to rape victims being allowed abortions.
Andres Arauz, a former central bank official, will be Gonzalez’s running mate. Arauz narrowly lost the 2021 presidential race to Guillermo Lasso, the nation’s current leader.
A survey by local pollster Click Report published last month showed that Correa’s candidate, then unknown, would be the frontrunner, followed by environmentalist candidate Yaku Perez.
Snap elections for president and the National Assembly became necessary after Lasso, facing an impeachment threat, dissolved the legislature just two years into his term. He isn’t seeking reelection.
Correa’s party performed strongly in recent local elections, capturing city halls in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest cities.
The party originally named former Vice President Jorge Glas as its candidate, but he declined the nomination.
In the presidential vote, if no candidate wins an absolute majority or at least 40% plus a 10 percentage point lead over the runner up, a runoff will go ahead Oct. 15. Lasso’s successor will take office in December.
Correa, president from 2007 to 2017, is barred from seeking elected office again due to a corruption conviction in 2020. He lives in self-exile in Belgium, his wife’s native country.
Since leaving office, Correa has continued to have a large influence on Ecuador’s politics.
(Adds Gonzalez’s comments in 3rd paragraph.)
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