Ecuador - Government
Ecuador's electoral authorities said the “Yes” campaign gained victory in all seven questions posed to voters in the referendum called by President Lenin Moreno. According to the head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Nubia Villacis, a quick count by the body showed the "Yes" vote winning between 63 and 74 percent of the vote, while official tallies with almost 50 percent of polling stations counted had the "Yes" campaign leading with between 64 and 75 percent, depending on the question. Turn-out was lower than previous elections, at just over 75 percent.
Ecuadoreans at home and abroad headed to the polls on 04 February 2018 to vote in the seven-question referendum, or "popular consultation" proposed by president Lenin Moreno who leads the campaign for the "yes" vote. The "No" campaign is primarily led by Correa and the Citizens' Revolution Movement, which formed as a result of the pro-Correa split within PAIS Alliance. Twenty-eight members of the National Assembly elected in April 2017 as part of PAIS Alliance have chosen to break away from the party and join Correa's newly founded political movement.
A one-time reelection limit would be instituted, barring popular leader and former president Rafael Correa from running for president again The question of preventing indefinite re-election, while adhering to the initial principles of the 2008 Montecristi constitution, is a cynical measure designed to prevent Rafael Correa from standing in the 2021 presidential elections. The law is also not expected to affect major opposition figures, who have been consistently allowed to stand for re-election without any constraints.
The Council for Citizen Participation, responsible for choosing the state attorney, all superintendents, the ombudsman, electoral and judicial authorities, would be restructured changing the way its seven council members are chosen. A temporary council would be appointed by the National Assembly from seven three-candidate lists sent by the executive. The Law for taxation of capital gains on property would be eliminated benefitting real estate developer and land speculators.
The proposed change to the CPCCS would reduce the established terms of the committee that oversees the selection of the attorney general, electoral council, comptroller general and other positions within the civil, electoral and juridical service. Furthermore, the referendum question proposes the removal of the current members of the CPCCS, and their replacement by a "transitory" committee appointed directly by the president, thus effectively giving Moreno direct oversight of the future direction and political alignment of these bodies.
The removal of the speculation tax would provide the biggest concession yet to the right-wing opposition. The measure was initially introduced by Correa's administration in May 2015 as a way of targeting super profits from the sale of land and real estate by the wealthiest two percent of the population, and as a means of reducing an increasing budget deficit brought on by the collapse. The tax was violently opposed by every major opposition party and figure with ties to the banking industry, the right-wing Social Christian Party, such as Jaime Nebot, and the landowner and property developer elites, such as Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas and the Prefect of Azuay Paul Carrasco.
The manner in which the consultation was called by President Moreno marks a sharp authoritarian turn from the established norms. While the previous popular consultations and referendums of 2011 and 2017 received the approval of Ecuador's Constitutional Court before being formally convened, Moreno's government chose to effectively bypass the court.
In March 2007, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal dismissed 57 members of Congress on the grounds that they violated campaign laws. Following that, the Congress was largely deadlocked and later effectively replaced by a constituent assembly that was voted into power on September 30, 2007. The assembly, which was inaugurated on November 29, 2007, drafted a new constitution that voters approved in a referendum and that went into effect in October 2008. This new constitution was Ecuador's 20th since independence.
The 2008 constitution provided for 4-year terms of office for the president, vice president, and members of the National Assembly. Presidents may be consecutively re-elected for an additional term. The executive branch included 38 cabinet members, (including coordinating ministries with inter-governmental responsibility and national secretariats). Provincial leaders (called prefects) and councilors, mayors, city councilors, and rural parish boards are directly elected.
On 31 October 2014, the constitutional court granted the National Assembly the authority to vote on 16 amendments to the constitution, including one that would eliminate term limits for the presidency and other elected positions. The court also approved 15 other proposed amendments the president’s political party introduced in June, including allowing the government to regulate communication as a public service, allowing the military to intervene in domestic security, reducing the powers of both the municipal governments and the Comptroller General, and stripping some labor protections from all public sector employees.
On 03 December 2015, the National Assembly approved 16 amendments to the constitution, including one that would eliminate term limits for the presidency and other elected positions, starting after the 2017 national elections. President Correa proposed the amendment on term limits, but in an effort to calm critics who accused the president of seeking to extend his time in power, Correa announced that he would not seek a third term.
The National Assembly elected in April 2009 replaced the interim Legislative Commission on July 31, 2009. The National Assembly is unicameral with 124 total legislators. The seven members of the Citizen Participation Council, under the transparency and social participation branch of government, were sworn in on March 18, 2010, for a 5-year term. Justices of the National Court of Justice are selected by a Judicial Council through a merit-based process for a 9-year term, with no immediate reappointment. A special committee, composed of members selected by all branches of government, will appoint the members of the Constitutional Court to serve a 9-year term, with no reappointment.
The interim Constitutional Court and National Court of Justice remained in place during the year 2010. The permanent Citizen Participation and Social Control Council, an institution under the newly created Transparency and Social Control branch of government, was selected in March, and it began working on the selection of permanent government officials, a process expected to conclude in 2011.
An Ecuadorian court authorized the nation’s Congress to amend the Constitution without a referendum to allow the current President Rafael Correa stay in power after 2017, when his last allowed term expires. The Constitutional Court of Ecuador, or El Tribunal, during a session in the southwestern town of Guayaquil, ruled 01 November 2014 that the nation’s Parliament has a legal authority to review, pass and implement 16 amendments to Constitution, previously proposed by the MPs. The aforementioned amendments extend term limits for all elected officials, including the nation’s President, the leftist Rafael Correa.
According to the Court’s ruling, the National Assembly must approve the new term limits within a year after two rounds of debates. The President may now be reelected for indefinite number of terms, under the court’s ruling. Correa and his party have a solid majority in the legislature, so there is no doubt he will be able to extend his rule. Correa was elected in 2013 for his last legally allowed 4-year tenure in the office. El Tribunal’s decision allows him to stay in power by being reelected indefinitely thereafter.
Other measures, approved by El Tribunal, include the authorization of the army in assisting police with “domestic security” and lowering the minimum age requirement for those running for President from 35 to 30 years old. There is also an amendment on ‘mass communications’ which allegedly allows a greater governmental control of the press.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa praised loyalists who dominate the national assembly for backing his proposal to amend the constitution so he can seek re-election. The legislation cleared 17 November 2015 by governing bloc legislators would permit indefinite re-election of a later president. So Correa could run again in 2021 and thereafter without restriction. Correa's alliance held 100 of the 137 seats. Opposition lawmaker Mae Montano said Correa's intentions are clear and unconstitutional. She said only a referendum can enable indefinite re-election.
Ecuadorian electoral law stipulates that parties not winning five percent of the vote in multi-candidate races shall be disbanded (Ecuadorian legislative elections are more parliamentary than presidential, with parties presenting candidate lists). The constitution mandated the reregistration of political organizations after the 2009 elections. On March 3, the National Electoral Council approved the required rules for reregistration. While there is no deadline for registration, in order to compete in elections, political organizations must be legally recognized at least six months prior to elections. Only two political organizations completed the reregistration requirements by the end of 2010.
The constitution provides for state-promoted, gender-balanced representation in the public sector, including in the lists of political parties' candidates for the National Assembly and other representative institutions. As of December 1, there were 42 women in the 124-seat National Assembly, 12 women in the 27-member cabinet, and two female secretaries of state with the rank of minister.
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