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Ecuador's Political Future After Correa's Reelection

On February 17th 2013, Rafael Correa was reelected as President of Ecuador with more than half of the vote, securing him the longest uninterrupted mandate in Ecuador's history.

Seventy two hours after the election, the National Electoral Council [es] (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) released the official results of the quick count, according to which the ruling party will have at least 96 of the 137 seats in the new Assembly. This means that the ruling party will have a majority in the Assembly, allowing it to approve laws that are still in discussion, but it will not have an absolute majority.

After hearing the official results, the reaction from Ecuadorian bloggers was quick.

On the blog Realidad Ecuador (Reality Ecuador), in a post titled “Ecuador's political future” [es], Juan Pablo Martínez writes:

La agenda del gobierno para los próximos cuatro años parece bastante clara. Primero, la tónica de los últimos años continuará, tanto en los aspectos positivos, como la inversión social, como en los aspectos negativos, como los ataques contra la libertad de expresión. Segundo, el plan de trabajo de Rafael Correa, que espero analizar a profundidad en artículos posteriores, incluye algunos puntos que darán mucho de qué hablar como la “Revolución del conocimiento y de las capacidades” y la “Revolución agraria”.

The government's agenda for the next four years seems quite clear. Firstly, the tonic of the last few years will continue, with all its positive aspects, such as social investment [es], as well as its negative aspects, such as attacks on freedom of expression [es]. Secondly, Rafael Correa's work plan [es], which I hope to analyze in depth in subsequent articles, includes some points which will give people much to talk about, like the “Knowledge and skills revolution” and the “Agrarian revolution”.

For Martínez, there are various questions, including what will the be the future for the new opposition lead by Guillermo Lasso, the candidate with the second largest number of votes in this election.

Fuente CNE

Results from the quick count. Image posted by the National Electoral Council (CNE)

Una de las posibles conclusiones de los últimos comicios es que Guillermo Lasso se ha posicionado como la principal cara de la oposición al régimen. Lasso, a diferencia de Gutiérrez, Noboa, Nebot (quien es muy poco popular fuera de Guayaquil), o quien sea que represente a Bucaram, no parece generar un amplio rechazo o resistencia entre los ecuatorianos. Después de conocer los resultados electorales, el exbanquero afirmó que “de cero nos hemos convertido en la segunda fuerza política del Ecuador.”

One conclusion that can be drawn from the last elections is that Guillermo Lasso has positioned himself as the main face of opposition against the regime. Lasso, unlike Gutiérrez, Naboa, Nebot (who has little popularity outside Guayaquil), or whoever represents Bucaram, does not seem to generate widespread rejection or resistance among Ecuadorians. On hearing the election results, the former banker affirmed that “from zero we have become the second largest political force in Ecuador.” [es].

In addition, Martínez argues that Lasso should be very selective when choosing his political companions in the next few years:

Lasso deberá mantenerse como un candidato de centro-derecha, con interés en políticas sociales dirigidas a la reducción de la pobreza, y ser cauteloso en no asociarse con grupos dogmáticos de derecha que son fuertes en el Ecuador (léase libertarios). Rodearse de personas con esas creencias podría llevarlo a posturas que, además de ser perjudiciales para el país, resultarían impopulares en sus aspiraciones presidenciales (por ejemplo, pretender revertir el énfasis que el gobierno actual ha puesto en la inversión social).

Lasso should maintain his status as a center-right candidate, with an interest in social policies aimed at poverty reduction [es], and be careful not to associate himself with dogmatic right-wing groups that are strong in Ecuador (read: libertarians). Surrounding himself with people with these beliefs could lead him to positions that, in addition to being damaging for the country, would be unpopular for his presidential aspirations (for example, reversing the emphasis that the current government has placed on social investment).

The blogger also wonders who will take Rafael Correa's place as the candidate for the PAIS Alliance when Correa finishes his presidential mandate, if he does not reform the constitution to allow for his reelection:

Bajo el supuesto de que Correa cumpla su palabra de no cambiar las leyes para buscar ser reelegido en el 2017, Alianza País deberá empezar a decidir quién será el encargado de tomar la posta como candidato presidencial. ¿Empezará Correa a brindar más protagonismo a su sucesor? De ser así, ¿desde cuándo? ¿El sucesor se elegirá a través de un proceso de elecciones primarias dentro del partido o será directamente seleccionado por Correa? Si bien será difícil para Alianza País posicionar un sucesor fuerte ante la sombra de un líder como Correa.

Supposing that Correa keeps his word not to change the law in order to get reelected in 2017, the PAIS Alliance should start to decide who will take over his post as presidential candidate. Will Correa start to give a greater role to his successor? If that is the case, when? Will the successor be chosen through a primary election process within the party or will they be selected directly by Correa? It will be difficult for the PAIS Alliance to position a strong successor in the shadow of a leader like Correa.

Meanwhile, blogger Anita Parada Cotrina [es] reflects on the candidates that are elected every four years. In her post titled “Ecuador's 2013 Elections. Personal opinion” [es], Parada comments that citizens should be responsible when they choose their candidates:

Un buen o mal manejo de la política es una consecuencia no una causa, y su alcance social, del que somos parte nos afecta a todos, pero también depende de todos. Cuando somos responsables en el rol que nos corresponde, estamos promoviendo un sistema justo.

Si queremos que nuestros representantes sean gente bien preparada y justa, debemos ser eso nosotros mismos, así cambiaremos nuestra representatividad. Para explicar esto inventaré un ejemplo: si 7 de cada 10 personas son corruptas, hay un 70% de posibilidades de que el representante que se eliga [sic] sea corrupto, pero si personalmente 4 de esas personas quisieran cambian y lo hicieran, y ahora solo 3 de cada 10 son corruptos, la posibilidad de que el próximo gobernante sea corrupto baja dramaáticamente a un 30%.

Good or bad political management is a consequence and not a cause, and its social significance, of which we are a part, affects us all, but also depends on us all. When we take responsibility for our roles, we promote a fair system.

If we want our representatives to be well-qualified, fair people, we must be these things ourselves, in order to change our representation. To explain this I will use an example: if 7 out of every 10 people are corrupt, there is a 70% change that the representative they elect will be corrupt. But if 4 of these people personally want to change and do so, and now only 3 out of every 10 people are corrupt, the chances of the next leader being corrupt reduces dramatically to 30%.

Finally, Parada emphasizes that, in order to have better representatives, every Ecuadorian should make an effort to be a better citizen.

Por cada persona que decida hacer la diferencia y ser el mejor ciudadano que puede ser, aumenta las posibilidades de tener un mejor representante.

For each person that decides to make a difference and be the best citizen that they can be, the chances of having a better representative increase.

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