Ecuador’s Moreno scores a major political victory

February 12, 2018

Latin News

Development: On 4 February, Ecuador’s national electoral council (CNE) released the preliminary results of the national plebiscite held that same day which show that the ‘yes’ vote was well ahead in all seven of the questions included in the plebiscite.

Significance: Pending the official confirmation of the results, these provide a major political fillip for President Lenín Moreno. President Moreno promoted the plebiscite seeking public support for a series of structural political and economic reforms that he considers to be key for strengthening Ecuador’s democracy and economy. But the reforms were opposed by his political-mentor-turned-critic and predecessor, Rafael Correa (2007-2017). Correa led the ‘no’ campaign around the country ahead of the referendum arguing that the proposed reforms were intended to roll back the political and social victories secured by his decade-old Citizens’ Revolution political project. The plebiscite results suggest that it is now Moreno and not Correa who enjoys the support of the majority of Ecuadoreans following their split.

The seven plebiscite questions included proposals to amend the constitution to introduce the ‘civil death’ of anyone convicted of corruption, to eliminate indefinite presidential re-election, to repeal a recent tax reform, and to introduce more restrictions on metallic mining in the country. Correa, who quit the ruling Alianza País (AP) party earlier this year in repudiation of the direction that Moreno was taking it in, strongly campaigned against the changes and in particular the proposed ban on indefinite re-election, arguing that this was designed to undermine him and his dissident AP allies.
It was speculated that Correa’s active campaigning could lead to his supporters coming out en masse to vote against the proposed reforms. However, the last CNE preliminary results released yesterday, with 95% of the vote counted, gave a significant lead of over 20 percentage points to the ‘yes’ vote on all questions. In the question on presidential re-election the ‘yes’ vote was 73.7% to 26.3% for the ‘no’ vote. The fact that on CNE figures the turnout was a high 74.8% also provides a major boost for Moreno, who had called for the public to take part in the plebiscite.
The preliminary results were celebrated by Moreno. He said that they provided his government with a clear mandate to push ahead with the reforms. “Thank you for being in favour of combating corruption, there will be no more corrupt policies…The old politicians will never return” Moreno said in a rally in clear allusion to the support for civil death and ban on indefinite presidential re-election proposals.

Looking Ahead: Moreno may have won a significant political victory but that he is now under pressure to deliver on his promises to change the country for the better was highlighted by Guillermo Lasso, the leader of the main opposition Creando Oportnidades (Creo) party, who told Moreno that “the time for questions is over and now is the time for answers”.

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Latin American Newsletters (LatinNews) was founded in London in 1967 to provide expert political, economic, and security analysis on Latin America and the Caribbean. For nearly 50 years, it has been acknowledged as the foremost authority on the region.

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