The 30-day campaign for and against seven referendum questions proposed by President Lenin Moreno began officially on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Moreno supporters representing the Democracia Sí movement gathered in front of the presidential palace in Quito, waving “Sí” signs, and cheering comments by movement spokesman Gustavo Larrea. “It is time that we restore the freedoms and liberties that we have lost, and it is time to restructure the government for service to the people,” said Larrea, a founder of the Alianza País party, and personal friend of Moreno.
Democracia Sí plans a nationwide referendum caravan, returning to Quito at the end of the 30-day campaign.
Supporters of Rafael Correa say that the former president will return to Ecuador within days to campaign against the referendum, although the date of his arrival has not been announced. Correa calls the referendum “illegal and undemocratic” and says it proves that Moreno is “drunk with power.”
The National Elections Council (CNE) has certified 40 political organizations and parties to participate in the referendum campaign, 36 that support the questions and four that oppose them.
CNE has distributed $3,907,979 in public funding to 537 media outlets — 386 radio stations, 68 television stations, 58 newspapers and 25 billboard companies — to advertise for and against the referendum questions.
Despite the numerical advantage of “yes” supporters, federal funding is split evenly between the “yes” and “no” camps. Each of the 36 groups supporting the referendum will receive $ 54,277 for advertising while the four groups opposing the questions will receive $488,497.
The campaign ends on February 2, two days before the Sunday, February 4 election.