DE RUEHQT #2131/01 2362129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 242129Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5096
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5902
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1954
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG 0030
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 0891
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 1018
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
UNCLAS QUITO 002131
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR ELECTIONS: NOW THERE ARE TEN...OR ELEVEN?
REF: QUITO 02064
1. (SBU) Summary: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) on
August 22 announced that it had approved the candidacies of
10 of the original 17 presidential hopefuls, and reported
that five independents failed to secure required signatures
and would be disqualified. PSP candidate Gilmar Gutierrez
was disqualified by the TSE on August 17 for not registering
within three days of his brother Lucio's rejection; the PSP
appeal of this decision to the Constitutional Court is
pending. In other electoral news, Rafael Correa criticized
front-runner Leon Roldos for backsliding on his agreement
with Freddy Ehlers; Alvaro Noboa faces charges of exceeding
campaign spending caps by $3.3 m.; and Correa brushed off
questions about his August 17 visit to Venezuela, where he
had dinner with President Chavez. A recent poll found that
65% of those surveyed remain undecided, while Roldos remains
out front with 26%. Results of a televised debate on August
22 among the top five candidates will be reported SepTel.
TSE Reduces Presidential Field
2. (U) The TSE announced on August 23 that independent
presidential candidates Julio Pincay (MIPE), Lenin Torres
(MRPP), and Marcelo Aguinaga (MCN) were disqualified for
failing to attain the required 89,903 signatures (1% of the
national electorate) in support of their candidacies at the
head of new movements. (Note: party candidates are not
required to present signatures, only new political
movements). The TSE is also expected to rule against
independents Pedro Roura (MRP), Franklin Munoz (MNDC),
Marcelo Larrea (the Bolivarian ALBA candidate) this week.
Thus far, TSE has approved seven political party candidates
and three independents:
1. Leon Roldos, RED/Democratic Left Alliance (RED/ID)
Movement. VP Ramiro Gonzalez.
2. Cynthia Viteri, Social Christian Party (PSC). VP Ernesto
3. Alvaro Noboa. Institutional Renewal Party of National
Action (PRIAN). VP Vincente Taiano.
4. Rafael Correa, PAIS Alliance Movement (PAIS). VP
5. Fernando Rosero, Ecuadorian Roldosista Party (PRE). VP
6. Luis Villacis, Democratic People's Movement (MPD). VP
7. Marco Proano Maya, Movement for Democratic Vindication
(MRD). VP Galo Cabanilla.
8. Jaime Damerval, Concentration of People's Forces (CFP)
Party. VP Lida Moreno.
9. Luis Macas, Pluri-National Pachakutik United Movement
(PK). VP Cesar Sacoto.
10. Carlos Sagnay, The Eclectic Movement (ME). VP Luis
Gutierrez Brothers Out?
3. (U) The TSE on August 17 rejected Gilmar Gutierrez' (PSP)
presidential candidacy, ruling that he failed to register
within three days following their July 16 rejection of
brother Lucio Gutierrez' candidacy (on the grounds Gutierrez
had accepted support for his 2002 candidacy from abroad).
The Gutierrez brothers immediately proclaimed their party the
victim of a second violation, and appealed to the
Constitutional Court on August 18. The TC is expected to
rule on the issue later this week, but their decision will
likely be based on political calculations of the leading
4. (U) An August 19 "Informe Confidencial" poll revealed
that Roldos continues to lead the herd with 26%, Viteri is in
second with 15%, and Noboa and Correa are tied with 12%. The
poll found that 65% of those surveyed remain undecided.
Public opinion analysts say that number is expected to
decline to 40% during the 45-day campaign period, which opens
on August 29. They blamed the lateness of many candidates to
register, and uncertainty generated by Noboa's temporary
withdrawal from the race, for the high rate of voter
indecision. Others claim it reflects public rejection and
apathy over electoral politics.
Roldos Clarifies, Correa Attacks
5. (U) Correa publicly criticized Roldos for imperiously
altering the August 10 "pact of the center-left" brokered by
potential candidate and TV personality Freddy Ehlers. The
document signed by Ehlers and Correa called for a constituent
assembly to be convoked by the new president the day after
taking office, on January 16. In signing the accord several
days after Correa, Roldos altered the document by hand,
penning a qualifier that he would call for a constituent
assembly only if Congress failed to act on political reforms
he would propose be put to a referendum. Correa accused
Roldos of backsliding, questioning his attitude (for altering
the document "as if he were Emperor") and commitment to
political reform. Roldos countered that his private
agreement with Ehlers had always included the grace period
for Congress to act on reforms.
Correa Visits Chavez
6. (U) Correa confirmed reports about an August 17 visit he
made to Venezuela, during which he reportedly traveled to
Venezuela with his campaign manager Ricardo Patino to attend
an event, and subsequently dined or stayed in Chavez'
parent's home in Barinas where he dined with President
Chavez. In confirming the reports, Correa claimed he had not
solicited the meeting, and denied any formal connection to
the Venezuelan Bolivarian Movement. He acknowledged only a
"personal friendship with President Hugo Chavez" and did not
disclose the topics of their conversation.
Noboa Exceeds Spending Cap
7. (U) The TSE reported on August 23 that Noboa had already
exceeded the $1.7 million electoral spending cap by $3.3
million, before officially registering as a candidate.
Noboa's running mate, Vicente Taiano, rejected the claim,
claiming that Noboa's radio and television spots support his
humanitarian endeavors and are not part of the presidential
campaign. Noboa has overspent before--he was ordered to pay
$4.7 million in fines for overspending on his 2002
presidential bid. Ecuadorian electoral law stipulates that
any candidate who exceeds spending caps must pay a fine for
twice the amount by which the cap was exceeded. Some
speculate that Noboa's recent indecision over whether to run
was related to the looming fine.
8. (SBU) The presidential field should be finalized by the
end of the week, and the formal 45-day campaign period opens
on August 29. The large number of undecided voters means the
race is still wide open. Though Roldos has consistently
maintained his edge among decided voters, Ecuadorian voters
have a recent history of late support for outsider
candidates. A recent poll shows support for Correa strongest
among the most educated, wealthiest voters. The deciding
vote, however, will come from the more populous poor, who
have yet to decide who they favor among the confusing array