Ecuadorians, reported to be in a mood for change, vote for a president, vice president and 137-member National Assembly. The country's recession and President Rafael Correa's absence on the ballot open the door for centre-right and right-wing parties in the Assembly, but only if they can unite.
A run-off vote, if necessary, will be held on Apr 2.
The opposition is widely described as splintered, and not in a position to take on the governing Alianza Pais. In October the party chose former vice president Lenin Moreno to succeed Correa, who has led the country for a decade. Moreno, who is in a wheelchair, was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1998 robbery. His running mate will be Jorge Glas, the present vice president.
The country's earthquakes in Apr and May 2016 killed hundreds of people and exacerbated the country's economic problems.
Though the legislature scrapped presidential term limits, Correa decided not to run. His relatively enduring popularity has fallen alongside the price of oil and end of the global commodity boom. They bankrolled some 40 per cent of his social programmes and the country's spending. He introduced reforms to make up the shortfall that have not been popular with his base.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Moreno's main contenders are likely to include Guillermo Lasso, of the right-wing Creo party, and Cynthia Viteri, who is running on the Unity coalition ticket. Teneo Intelligence told the newspaper in October that a highly fractured opposition field "will be a major advantage for Moreno."
Date written/update: 2017-01-15