The National Electoral Council (CNE) has again denied opponents of a constitutional amendment allowing indefinite reelection of public officials. If the amendment goes into effect, it is widely believed that President Rafael Correa will seek another term office.
The CNE said Friday that it will not forms, Compromisos Ecuador, available to the opposition who want to put the issue before the country’s voters. It is the third rejection of the request for voter forms.
The opposition group Commitment Ecuador formed in September 2014 to oppose the ruling PAIS Alliance party’s attempts to amend the country’s Constitution and allow for the indefinite reelection of the president. The group argues that such a change to Ecuador’s Constitution requires a popular vote.
It is widely believed that Correa would easily win a third full term in office in a general election, but many believe a referendum on term limits, where the country’s right- and left- wing parties would join forces, would face higher odds.
The question, presented to the CNE, that Commitment Ecuador had planned to pose to the Ecuadorian people reads: “Do you agree that the indefinite reelection of the president and other elected positions should be allowed in Ecuador?”
However, the National Electoral Council denied the request on the grounds that all constitutional issues must first be addressed by the Constitutional Court.
CNE President Juan Pablo Pozo has previously referenced Articles 100 and 104 in his denials for a referendum on indefinite reelection, however the attorney Jorge Alvear believes the CNE is ignoring relevant precedents already set by the Constitutional Court.
Alvear points to the referendum led by President Correa in 2011 in which a set of 10 questions were put to a vote, including a potential ban on casinos in the country. The Court ruled in that case that the collection of signatures was necessary to demonstrate the democratic legitimacy of the questions prior to its own ruling on the matter.
Julio Clavijo, a member of Commitment Ecuador, told the website PanAm Post that he believes the true motive behind the legal maneuvering is to change the Constitution without the consent of the Ecuadorian people.
“Once again, we are seeing how the CNE and Constitutional Court are ‘passing the ball’ between each other, because they know this does not favor the government,” he said.
The day before the CTE announced its decision, President Correa issued a statement guaranteeing the question would be rejected.
“Where is presidential reelection stipulated?” questioned Correa. “Is it in a regulation, a ministerial agreement, a law, or the Constitution? It’s in the Constitution, right? Then, undoubtedly, this is a constitutional matter, and they know it,” he said, calling the referendum “a show.”
Clavijo says Correa’s government is “afraid” to take the question of indefinite reelection to the people, even though it is one of great national interest. “We want to ask, and we are entitled to do so. They cannot deny us a say, to express our opinion at the polls, to endorse or reject the intentions of certain political groups in the country,” he added.
“We cannot allow a fundamental issue for democracy to be discussed behind closed doors by 100 assembly members.” Clavijo says he is concerned that the ruling party “wants to hijack democracy.”
“The president must understand that constitutional issues are not reserved exclusively for him, and that all Ecuadorians have the right to consult and be consulted, especially when he is trying to change the rules of the game for his own benefit,” he says.
Credit: PanAm Post