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Mayoral Elections in Quito, Ecuador: President Correa on the Campaign Trail

20 de noviembre, 2013. El Movimiento Alianza Pais inscribió los nombres de sus candidadtos para las elecciones seccionales del 2014. Foto: Micaela Ayala V./Andes en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On November 20th, 2013, the ruling PAIS Alliance party registered the names of its candidates for the 2014 local elections. Photo: Micaela Ayala V./Andes on Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

[All links lead to Spanish language pages, except where otherwise noted.]

In the heat of the electoral battle for mayor of Quito, the statements of Ecuador's highest authorities have gotten more attention than those of the candidates themselves.

The electoral process, officially called the 2014 Elections of the Metropolitan District of Quito, will take place this Sunday, February 23. Six candidates remain in the running, including the city's current mayor Augusto Barrera, a member of the governing PAIS Alliance party. The latest polls show that 42% of respondents intend to vote for the candidate Mauricio Rodas, of the opposition party SUMA-Vive, while support for government party candidate Barrera fluctuates between 36 and 39%.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, worried by the possibility that his party's candidate may not be reelected as mayor of Quito, recorded the following message for party members [es]:

The message was also published in written form on Correa's Facebook page and in other media. In the written version of the message, Correa cites social media tags and mentions that the right wing has united to take over the mayor's office in Quito. Correa adds:

San Ignacio decía: “En una fortaleza asediada, toda disidencia es traición. Cualquier diferencia entre nosotros la trataremos al día siguiente de la victoria. Quito debe seguir siendo la capital de la Revolución Ciudadana”.

Saint Ignatius said: “In a besieged citadel, all dissidence is treason.” We will settle any differences between us on the day after the victory. Quito must continue to be the capital of the Citizen Revolution.

The message provoked reactions of both support and opposition on Facebook. For example, user Romel Pardo comments approvingly:

Romel Pardo: Bueno señor presidente pueden ganar alcaldias. Pero el presidente de Ecuador ES y sera Rafael Correa. A correa no le gana nadie hay que cambiar la constitucion para que se quede UNOs 20 años mas el 80% de ecuatorianos LO apoyamos

Well, Mr. President, they [the opposition] might win mayoral elections. But the president of Ecuador IS and will remain Rafael Correa. No one can beat Correa. They should change the constitution so that he can have 20 more years; more than 80% of Ecuadorians support HIM.

Meanwhile, Diego Quimbaila disagrees:

Diego Quimbaila: Sr. Presidente para usted mi voto en las elecciones nacionales todo 35, pero para alcalde de Quito ya no Barrera hay cosas buenas pero son más los desaciertos, no caminamos a ningún lado hay caos en esta hermosa ciudad no podemos seguir en esto…

Mr. President, you have my vote in the national elections for your “Todo 35″ plan, but we no longer want Barrera for mayor of Quito. There are some good things, but the mistakes outnumber them. We're not going anywhere, there's chaos in this beautiful city, we can't continue like this.

User Alberto Gallifa brings up an important point:

Alberto Gallifa: En una verdadera democracia un Presidente de la República no debe hacer proselitismo político en favor de ningún candidato!!!!! Eso debería estar penado por la misma Constitución y por el Instituto encargado de regular y avalar las contiendas políticas, mientras eso no suceda Ecuador no tendrá la verdadera Revolución Ciudadana que tanto pregona RC y su país jamás será verdaderamente libre y democrático……

In a true democracy, a President of the Republic must not campaign in favor of any candidate!!!!! This should be punishable by the Constitution itself and by the Institute responsible for regulating and managing electoral contests. Until this happens, Ecuador will not have the true Citizen Revolution that Rafael Correa claims to support, and his country will never be truly free and democratic…

This isn't the only message that President Correa has sent. He sent another on February 12, this time addressing all citizens of Quito, where he reviews the projects and successes of Mayor Barrera and stresses that the right wing wants to boycott the Revolution:

To the voters of Quito, with caring and commitment, as always… 

In this case, however, an internet user put forward a response. Paola tweeted:

Our response to Rafael Correa…

Among other comments, Paola notes that Correa only writes to the Ecuadorian people during election time and when he wants something. She also asks how losing a mayoral election could destabilize the government. Paola adds:

Trato de entender por qué es un “DEBER A CUMPLIR” votar por alguien en particular? [...] Por qué debo sacrificar mi bienestar y el de mi familia por el bien del color de un partido, de un ego y absolutamente nada más? [...] Lo siento Presidente, yo voto por quien yo quiera.

I'm trying to understand how it can be a “DUTY TO FULFILL” to vote for someone in particular? [...] Why should I sacrifice my well-being and that of my family for the good of a party flag, an ego, and absolutely nothing more? [...] I'm sorry, President, but I'm voting for whomever I want.

Other public officials, like Héctor Rodríguez, General Manager of the public company YACHAY, also felt the obligation to tell the citizens of Quito his reasons to vote for Mayor Barrera. In a message tweeted from the account @hrodriguez_, Rodriguez stresses the importance of the public spaces reclaimed by Barrera, and states: “It's not fair that a couple of greedy obsolete neoliberals want to take away our opportunity to continue doing great public work.”

My personal position as a member of Juventudes Alianza PAIS: why I'm voting for Augusto [Barrera] for mayor. 

In recent statements, President Correa declared that if the PAIS Alliance loses the mayoral election in Quito, then “we will begin to see results like those in Venezuela, where Nicolás Maduro faces opposition from Caracas itself every day.” Economist Alfredo Velazco reacts to this on Twitter, saying:

Amenazan con q ‪#‎Ecuador‬ se convertirá en ‪#‎Venezuela‬ si pierden ‪#‎Alcaldía‬ ‪#‎Quito‬ – amenazará también q se convertirá en Maduro? Estas ‪#‎EleccionesEC‬ estarán marcadas en amenazas más que en ofertas de campaña.

They're threatening that Ecuador will turn into Venezuela if they lose the Quito mayoral election – will [Correa] also threaten that he will turn into Maduro [en]? These elections will be marked by threats more than campaign promises.

On February 14, a televised debate took place between the two candidates with the best chances of winning: current mayor Augusto Barrera and opposition candidate Mauricio Rodas. On February 19 another debate took place, this time between five of the six candidates (Mauricio Rodas was absent). Twitter user Vero Salvador summarizes the impression shared by many viewers after the latest debate:

What an embarrassment of a debate! Lame ideas, repetitive irony, tiresome jokes. Like they say in Quito, we are wasting money with these candidates.

A final controversial issue is that President Correa will air his usual television program, or sabatina, on Saturday the 22, the day before the elections. This would violate the fifth subsection of Article 207 of Ecuador's Democratic Code or Organic Electoral Law. In response to this issue, a resigned Domingo Paredes, President of the National Electoral Council (CNE), declared:

During the campaign, it would be preferable for Correa to be at a rally than at the sabatina. [Photo reads: Sometimes Correa surpasses the electoral authority” Domingo Paredes, President of the National Electoral Council.

More information about the progress of these upcoming local elections – which will be carried out at a national level, not just in Quito – can be found online at Elecciones 2014 Ecuador, on Twitter under the tag #EleccionesEC, and in the special features of newspapers El Comercio and La Hora.

Finally, we leave you with a satirical music video that pokes fun at one of the government party's campaign mottos, “Todo todito 35,” linking it with criticism of various government policies.

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