Preliminary results confirmed the overwhelming triumph of the ‘Yes’ in the constitutional referendum and the popular consultation, which were held in Ecuador on February 4th. This victory implies the consolidation of the “descorreización” (for former President Rafael Correa) process, which was started by President Lenín Moreno, and supported by most of the right-centred politicians and several social organizations. However, the biggest challenge now is how to capitalize this triumph among the broad anti-Correist coalition.
On a day in which 74.80% of the qualified electorate participated, the proposal of the Executive Branch won by a landslide across the country. There were seven questions to be answered, on topics such as:
- Fight against corruption;
- Indefinite reelection;
- Reform to the Council of Citizen Participation (Consejo de Participación Ciudadana);
- Child protection;
- Surplus value; and
- Yasuní National Park.
Specifically, public opinion focused on four topics: disqualification to take office as a public officer to individuals convicted of acts of corruption; the Reform to the Citizen Participation Council, the repeal of the Surplus Value Law and the prohibition of indefinite re-election. In all cases, the ‘Yes’ obtained more than 63%.
After the result became public, President Lenin Moreno thanked the citizens for having voted and said: ‘Democracy has massively triumphed today. People have said yes to democracy. (…) The victory of the ‘Yes’ is the victory of the country. It has been a long time since we had a national cause like this one.’
Regarding former president Rafael Correa, the only political leader who campaigned for the ‘No’, he expressed himself on Twitter thanking to supporters on his new political party Movimiento Ciudadana Revolution (MRC).
Meanwhile, Guillermo Lasso, leader of the right-centered party CREO and one of the biggest promoters of the ‘Yes’, praised the result. However, he warned Lenin Moreno. ‘President Moreno you have to be careful not to misunderstand the message that citizens sent with their vote. Be careful should we discover the public consultation is nothing more than a smokescreen to hide the continuity of economic mismanagement’ he said.
Analysis of the result
The result should be interpreted more as a triumph of anti-Correism than as an unconditional support for President Lenin Moreno. The way in which the anti-Correist coalition, which brings together both right-centered parties and the government, capitalizes this triumph will be central to the new political scenario.
For President Lenin Moreno, who has not yet been head of the Executive Branch for a year, the triumph represents an opportunity to re-legitimize his government and consolidate his own agenda, more predisposed to take demands from the opposition, especially on economic issues.
A fact to be taken into account is the repeal of the elimination of the Surplus Value Law, which has been historically claimed by right-centered and business groups, was the least supported proposal. In this new scenario, the government will face the challenge of articulating sectoral business demands without losing popular support.
On the other hand, the result is a double challenge for the opposition. Firstly, the emergence of an anti-Correist identity in a context in which the figure of Rafael Correa is weakening. Secondly, the strategy the opposition will adopt towards a strengthened Lenin Moreno.
Correist supporters have proved they can maintain its historical minimum of voters, which oscillates between 25% and 30%. This result illustrates that the party can still be a relevant force in national politics, despite having broken with Alianza PAÍS and created the Movimiento Revolución Ciudadana (MRC) party.
Once the National Electoral Council of Ecuador (Consejo Nacional Electoral de Ecuador) makes the results official, within a period of ten days, the president will have to introduce bills to amend the Constitution and modify laws in the National Assembly, in order to implement the changes following the result.
The president of the Assembly, José Serrano (Alianza PAÍS), informed that the Legislative Administration Council (Consejo de Administración Legislativa) will be asked to create an Occasional Specialized Committee to deal with the topics asked in.
The National Assembly is going to be an interesting political arena. In January, Alianza PAÍS lost parliamentary majority and became the third biggest parliamentary force, when 28 Correist legislators left and formed a new group. For this reason, the government must count on the collaboration of the right-centred opposition parties to pass these bills.