President Rafael Correa appears ready to make good on a commitment that he will leave office at the end of current term, in 2017. The announcement made at a Saturday press conference came as a surprise even to members of his of own Alianza Pais political party.
Correa said that no elected officials, including himself and members of the National Assembly, should benefit from a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow indefinite reelection.
“If our terms in office are completed under the rules of the current constitution, we should not run for office again if this amendment is approved,” Correa said of elected officials. “If we want to take advantage of the new rules, they should leave office at the end of this term and run again in 2021.”
Although the president’s comments support his recent assertion that he will not run in next year’s election, it is the first time he has suggested that no other elected officers should benefit from the proposed amendment either. According to Quito political analyst Paúl Ramirez, the suggestion caught Alianza Pais members of the National Assembly off guard. “Many of them, whose terms are complete in 2017, were planning to run again,” he said. “This could put an end to their plans.”
Ramirez says that speculation among those close Correa supporters is that he will step down following the 2017 election but will run again in 2021. “This is probably a very smart strategy. He is confident that Pais can hold the presidency and the National Assembly but he also understands that the next four or five years will be difficult economically. If he runs for office again in 2021, he returns as the knight in shining armor, given his current popularity.”
Correa has said in several recent interviews that he will leave office in 2017 and take a teaching position in Belgium, his wife’s native country.
“I think he’s correct about the opposition,” says Ramirez. “Even if the support of Pais falls off considerably before the next election, no other political party, because of political divisions in the country, will be able to take control.”
Correa has said he believes that either former vice president Lenin Moreno or current vice president Jorge Glas can be elected in 2017.
It was not clear whether Correa wants the ban on immediately reelection of current office holders included in the wording of the amendment or enacted as separate legislation in the National Assembly.