1675612679 Ecuador is contesting local elections facing a watered down ruling party

Ecuador is contesting local elections facing a watered-down ruling party and an opposition trying to carve up the country

The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, in the eleventh binational Ecuador-Colombia cabinet.The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, in the eleventh binational cabinet Ecuador-Colombia José Jácome (EFE)

Ecuador is in electoral silence, just hours away from going to the polls in some private elections on Sunday, February 5th. Around 13.5 million Ecuadorians are called to municipal elections, in which the 221 mayors will be renewed, but also 23 prefects (provincial governors), as well as municipal councils, rural representatives and also this time the deputies elects institutions such as the prosecutor, the auditor and others.

There are 61,850 candidates, seven ballot papers that the Electoral Council has color coded to make them easier to distinguish, there will be two amphorae to deposit them and make it easier to count the votes. In addition, the government has built a constitutional referendum with eight questions into the election call. When President Guillermo Lasso proposed going to a referendum, the initial goal was to enact legislative reforms that would provide a solution—now yes—to the overwhelming security problem that is the primary concern of Ecuadorians, where the homicide rate is 25 percent. per 100,000 population, one of the highest in Latin America.

However, the final vote will have eight questions, only one of which has anything to do with certainty and on which President Lasso has bet everything, even the political capital he could raise in the sections. “The government is more concerned about the assembly and the indigenous movement,” says political scientist Jacobo García. The ruling party hasn’t fielded strong candidates in the midterm elections, it doesn’t even take part in the big cities like Quito and Guayaquil, and in others it relies on alliances with various movements when politics needs to be bottom-up and connect with the territory , that’s why in “crisis moments like the social protest that lasted 18 days, ruptures occurred because there was no unity between the central government and local governments, and some mayors took the opportunity to take a stand on their benefit,” says the Sociologist Pablo Pardo. And given the constant threat of indigenous mobilizations and impeachments it has faced in its first year, the government may need alliances.

With the ruling party’s exit from the political board, its three main opponents in the country could gain strength: former President Rafael Correa’s party, the right with its allies, the Social Christian Party, and Pachakutik from the indigenous movements.

But even in an indecisive scenario, where 58% of voters have expressed that they do not know who they will vote for and that they would not vote without compulsory voting, many of the 221 municipalities will identify themselves as distinct political parties represent ; That means the map of Ecuador is becoming fragmented, García analyses. “In many places it will be foreseeable that whoever wins will win with 25 or 30 percent, and that creates a problem of legitimacy.”

And in the absence of clear and viable proposals, lacking in a campaign plagued by candidates dancing and acting on Tik Tok, voters will leave with uncertainty on Sunday to fill out seven ballots. Although not far from the usual reality, since the beginning of their democracy in 1978, Ecuadorians have been called to the polls 11 times by referenda and referenda for constitutional amendments. The last time this was the then President Lenín Moreno in February 2018. His predecessor Rafael Correa used this resource four times. Governments have used this instrument as a political thermometer of their popularity, and on this occasion, amidst citizen discontent, President Lasso resorts to the same formula to have oxygen and finish his remaining two years in office.

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