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Politics

In a nutshell

Ecuador is a unified, multinational, non-religious state. The country is divided into 24 departments. The country’s administration remains strongly centralised despite a decentralisation process which began in 1998. The new constitution adopted in 2008 encourages a revival of the process to create a new state based on decentralised management.

After ten years of political instability, marked by the deposal of three presidents of the republic (A. Bucaram, 1997; J. Mahuad, 2000; L. Gutierrez, 2005), the current president of the republic, Rafael Correa, was elected for the first time in 2006 in order to reestablish (legislative and legal) stability in the country.  Leader of the people’s revolution that ended with the removal of president Lucio Gutierrez in 2005, Rafael Correa overhauled the country’s institutions. His first term ended with the adoption of a new constitution, and he was reelected in 2009.

The president has a term of four years and can run for reelection.  The constitution restored the national representation of the legislative branch. Since 2002 the Assembly, the only legislative house, has been comprised only of departmental representatives. The restoration of national representation by elected representatives was a priority for Correa to reduce the regional political divisions and fragmentation of political parties.

The political crisis was compounded by an economic one. In 2000, Ecuador adopted the dollar after an unprecedented surge of inflation which caused president Jamil Mahuad to resign in 2000. Within just a few years, the country experienced the highest migration rates in South America. In response to this demographic configuration, the new constitution granted Ecuadorian migrants the right to vote in the national elections.

The Ecuadorian economy recovered in 2008 but, dependent on the dollar and on oil, the government had less leeway to implement sectoral reforms, including education (escuelas del milenario), which is the government’s top priority.

For more information: www.opalc.org, political info on Latin America, including Ecuador.

 

In the words of an Ecuadorian

"Rafael Correa has promised a « citizen's revolution » to give credibility back to the institutions and to end the «mafia of political parties».

Convinced that only a constituent assembly can back up the institutions, Mr. Correa has decided not to present any candidate to the congress elections. The wrestling match with the Congress, controlled by the opposition, will probably be long-lasting.

Correa administers one of the most unstable countries of Latin America. The last three elected presidents were unable to hold power until the end of their mandate.

Mr. Correa is very critical of the policies enacted over the last 20 years, under the control of Washington and the main international financial organizations. "According to the officers of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, a policy in favor of capital is a technical policy, whereas a policy in favor of people is a populist policy! », Mr. Correa says, revolted.

He also criticizes privatization, autonomy of the central bank and the dollarization of the currency, considering these as irreversible in the short term. "Unlike the neoliberals, I am convinced that the market is a very good servant but a very bad master, he says. The state is about to be more and more responsible for the economy and the development."

The new president could consider a moratorium agreement on the payment of the external debt, "if required, according to the economic situation". Such a statement may scare financial markets. "Tell Moody's (on the 8th of January, lowered the rating of Ecuadorian bonds) and the financial speculators that I do not care about their "country risk", Mr. Correa says. The only "country risk" I care about is the one that working children and Ecuadorians are pushed to emigration because of poverty."

According to Mr. Correa, the current model of development is not sustainable in the long term, because it relies on the export of manpower and extraction of non-renewable resources.

Aware of the pending difficulties, Mr. Correa relies on "favorable regional environment ". Between the reformist leftwing parties in Brazil and Chile and the more extreme governments of Venezuela and Bolivia, "convergences should be noticed rather than differences of style", he says.

As for Washington, Mr. Correa gets straight to the point: he will not sign the free trade treaty negotiated by the former president, he will not renew the American base in Manta in 2009, so that the American soldiers will have to leave. Rafael Correa is pretty confident. "If the United States keep on respecting the sovereign decisions of Ecuador, everything will be fine ", he says."[1]

 

More information

History of Ecuador

Politics of Ecuador

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[1] Le Monde - January 2007

Ecuadorean