Michel Magul and Juan Manuel Velasco are former interns of the LatinAmerican Leaders FAES Program
On Sunday, 4 of Februrary 2017, the Ecuadorian people had to choose between the YES and NO options on a seven questions query, among them they were topics such as issues related to the disqualification due to corruption cases, the one-time limitation of the presidential re-election, the democratic election of the Citizen Participation Council and the elimination of the Law on Capital gains. In all cases, the YES option, led by current President Lenín Moreno, reached an overwhelming victory over the NO option, whose campaign was led by former President Rafael Correa. The ruling party, as well as the opposition parties CREO and the PSC, along with leftist groups, turned their support towards the YES alternative, displaying their resounding rejection of "correismo".
The results of the inquiry left a few points that need to be debated, but undoubtedly it represents an important defeat for those who support the "Socialism of the 21st century". After the results of this Sunday, the current president of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, who reached the presidency introduced by Rafael Correa, nowadays-biggest opponent of Moreno. Since he legitimized a Government program and a strategy of re-institutionalization and democratic strengthening contrary to the aspirations and wills of his former ally, Rafael Correa. As a result of the results of this Sunday, three policies of the Correa Government will be removed or reformed: the indefinite re-election, the conformation of the Council of Citizen Participation and the Law on Capital gains.
Around 64% of the Ecuadorian voters voted for the limitation of the presidential re-election and the disqualification due to cases of corruption. Thereof, the indefinite re-election approved by an Amendment during the Correa government has been invalidated and, as the former president was investigated for cases of corruption that occurred during his administration, his presidential candidature for the year 2021 would be disqualified. In this line, also the Law to avoid land and taxation speculation, known as the Law on Capital gains, was also defeated by the will of the Ecuadorian people with 63.7% in favor of its repeal.
Moreover, another issue that requires special attention is the Council of Citizen Participation. In virtue of the results of this past Sunday, this body, created by former President Correa to maintain its influence in the current legislature, will undergo significant changes regarding its composition. In an early stage of the transition, which is meant to last, the Council will have transitory members appointed by President Moreno, who will remain in office until February 2019, date on which there should take place a democratic election of those members. This new composition will allow the Government of Moreno greater and broader governability and predicts a stage that involves a major purge of the Government spheres that supported the former President Correa.
Last Sunday, the Ecuadorian people expressed their opinion in favor of important shifts regarding Government issues and Law changes, which take part in the democratic strengthening of their country. Likewise, the ruling party and the opposition, in a very strange depolarization practice during the Correa government, joined in celebrating the YES proposal, thus isolating the so-called “Correismo”. These are, undoubtedly, clear signs of the desire of both the citizen and the politicians to step away from antidemocratic practices. With these results, Ecuador opens a path of reconciliation and counterattacks corruption, demagoguery and populism, and endorses the alternation of political leaders, considered as one of the most emblematic symbols of modern democracies.
Furthermore, beyond the results of the referendum, the electoral contest brought two antagonistic Models of Nation State in dispute; and with the victory of the YES the rejection of the Latin American people to the 21st century socialism, which has been a burden for the Ecuadorian society, is further consolidated. The consultation this Sunday comes along with the victory of President Macri in Argentina and the dismissal of President Rousseff in Brazil as clear and eloquent signs of the displeasure of the Latin American people with a decadent political model. Moreover, it is one more defeat of the detrimental populism that is starting to lose its strength throughout the region.
Meanwhile, former President Correa, facing the storm of his defeat, encouraged his supporters by quoting the unsuccessful armed rebellion led by the already deceased Hugo Chávez on February 4, 1992, who at that time stated that the objectives had not been reached "for now". In light of the belligerence and cynicism of this approach, the Ecuadorian people still have to keep their guard down and continue seeking for a peaceful reconciliation, democratic and economic recovery, and spurring other Latin American neighboring countries.
Translated by David Alonso Galera, Intern at FAES Foundation