The national tax authority, or SRI, did not respond to multiple requests for information.
According to Cedatos’ October poll, Noboa would only garner about 2 percent of the vote. But Noboa insists his numbers are higher, and that any weakness in his campaign is the direct result of Correa’s attacks in the state-run media.
“Correa controls the press, he controls the [National Election Council], and he has great influence over the court,” Noboa said. “Anyone who opposes him ends up in a very difficult situation.”
While the field is tilted in Correa’s favor, the opposition has also failed to present a compelling alternative, said Simon Pachano, a political science professor at Ecuador’s Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences, or FLACSO.
“We still don’t have an opposition with credible proposals,” Pachano said. “And people are likely to think ‘Why should I risk it with some other candidate if the president we have has done a relatively good job — at least compared to previous administrations.’”
If Correa doesn’t win in the first round, however, and the opposition rallies behind a single candidate in the runoff, “then that could be difficult for him,” Pachano said.
While Correa’s candidacy is strong, it does have its weak spots. Correa’s combative attitude with the United States and multinational firms have hurt foreign investment and threaten the country’s U.S. trade benefits. In addition, rising crime, corruption charges and his penchant for suing and fining the press, have opened him up to attacks.
But Correa has been fighting back, accusing the opposition of being beholden to big business and willing to dismantle the social safety nets his administration has created.
Noboa admits that some might be blinded by his wealth, but insists he’s a center-left candidate who wants to harness the power of the private sector to help the poor.
“The true enemies of the poor are totalitarian Latin-American leaders and corrupt politicians,” he said, “not businessmen.”
One of Lasso’s flagship proposals was to increase the monthly cash subsidy paid to the elderly and poor from $35 to $50.
Correa seized the idea from him and has a bill before congress that would finance the increase by taxing banking profits.
Lasso said the move was a direct attack on his candidacy and the banking industry, where he still holds sway. It’s also another sign the government is willing to go to any length to win the election, he said.
“This law is an act of revenge,” he said. “But thank God I wasn’t a baker or he would have confiscated the profits of all bakers… It isn’t a serious way to participate in politics.”