Bachelor Political Sciences, Catholic University, Quito, 1964. Doctor of Laws, Catholic University, Quito, 1966. Doctor of Science (honorary), Georgetown University, 1983.
During his studies at the Catholic University in the 1960s, Hurtado became a student leader. Afterwards, he lectured political sociology at his alma mater and at the Centro Andino of the University of New Mexico. He became one of the most widely read political scientists of his home country.
In 1977, he authored an influential book on Ecuadorian politics titled El Poder Político en el Ecuador (English: "Political Power in Ecuador").
At the time, it was the most radical among Ecuador"s non-Marxist parties and Hurtado was suspected by his right-wing opponents of being a "closet Marxist". In 1978, he merged his Christian Democrats with the progressive wing of the Conservative Party to form the Popular Democracy party.
In 1979, Hurtado was chosen as running mate of presidential candidate Jaime Roldós Aguilera of the populist Concentration of People"s Forces. Roldós was successful and Hurtado became vice-president
On May 24, 1981, Jaime Roldós Aguilera died in a plane crash.
Hurtado succeeded Roldós Aguilera as President of Ecuador and served out the rest of his term.
Hurtado drew progressive Catholics and younger professionals away from the Social Christian Party and into the Christian Democrats movement which was inspired by Christian communitarianism and Liberation theology and criticized capitalist exploitation.
Club of Madrid]
Hurtado is a member of the Club de Madrid.
Married Margarita Perez, September 29, 1969. Children: Sebastian, Andres, Cristina, Isabel, Felipe.