Rafael Correa has so dominated political life in Ecuador for 10 years that the election in many ways appears to be a referendum on his legacy. While the opposition criticizes Correa for dramatically expanding the size of the state at the expense of the private sector, excessive hiring of public servants, cracking down on freedom of the press, and ruling with an authoritarian style, supporters praise him for investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and transportation. However, every one seems to agree that Correa’s famed confrontational style worked to his detriment. The word often repeated here in reference to his administration is “prepotente”: indeed Lenin Moreno, Correa’s hand-picked successor herein faces his greatest electoral challenge: seeking to disassociate himself from the imperial nature and penchant for conflict of his mentor and predecessor.
Former Vice President Moreno served from 2007 to 2013 under Rafael Correa. Coming from humble origins in the Ecuadorean Amazon, Moreno enjoyed a distinguished career in both the public and private sector. In 1998, while serving as head of the Pichincha Chamber of Tourism (Ecuador’s second largest province where the capital Quito is located), he was the victim of a tragic crime, when he was shot in the back during a carjacking in a Quito parking lot. The accident left him a paraplegic.
Following a lengthy and arduous convalescence, Moreno went on to become a motivational speaker and public figure, ultimately prompting Correa to include him on his ticket. Moreno was indeed a shrewd choice on the part of Correa and the Alianza Pais party: he is reasonably well-liked, he is reasonably well-respected, and, most importantly, he does not engender the type of visceral reaction that made Correa such a polarizing figure.