Despite his insistence that he has no interest in staying in office, supporters of President Rafael Correa continue to press for a national referendum that would allow him to seek another term.
On Wednesday, three judges on the Constitutional Court, Ecuador’s highest court, said that the request for a referendum meets legal requirements. The entire court must now rule on the referendum for it to go forward.
Pamela Aguirre and Stephania Baldeón, members of Correa’s Pais political party, maintain that Correa should continue in office based on his achievements over the past nine years. They say they believe he will change his mind not to run again if a popular referendum changes the language of the constitution to allow it. Ironically, the constitutional amendment the referendum seeks to change was adopted only late last year, with the language prohibiting the president from running again added personally by Correa.
Another complication is a constitutional prohibition of any change to the electoral process within 12 months of an election. Juan Pablo Pozo, president of national electoral board (CNE) that would make a final decision on allowing the referendum to proceed, said that February 19 was the deadline for any changes to the process to be legally made ahead of the February 2017 elections.
If the Constitutional Court allows the referendum effort to proceed and CNE okays it, Aguirre and Baldeón say they will begin the process of collecting 580,000 signatures to put it on the ballot.