National referendum to modify or reverse Correa-era government policies seems likely

Sep 4, 2017 | 6 comments

Although President Lenin Moreno has already made significant changes to the policies of former president Rafael Correa, bigger ones could be on the way.

President Lenin Moreno

In his Monday, August 28 address to the nation, Moreno said he may soon call a public referendum allowing voters to amend the constitution or eliminate laws that were central to Correa’s government.

“I will not hesitate to come to the voters to decide important issues that affect the future of the country,” he said. “I trust their wisdom and I trust the power of the democratic process.”

Among the issues that could be included in a referendum, or consultacion popular, are the independence of Ecuador’s judicial system, the future of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS), the law regulating the media, and an amendment passed last year by the National Assembly allowing the indefinite re-election of the president.

In addition, political parties and other interest groups have compiled their own laundry list of issues they would like included in a referendum.

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Loyalists to Correa are clearly worried about a referendum, in particular that it might reverse the indefinite re-election amendment and deny Correa the possibility of returning to office. A recent poll conducted by the University of San Fransciso-Quito, showed that more than 70% of voters oppose a president serving for more than two eight-year terms.

The leadership of Alianza Pais (AP), much of which is aligned with Correa in the ideological conflict with Moreno, is asking for a meeting with Moreno to discuss his intentions. “We are demanding an explanation of what might be included in the consultation and the reason the president feels the need to call one in the first place,” says Ximena Peña, coordinator of the AP agenda in the National Assembly.

Last week, Moreno said he is troubled by political pressures being exerted on judges in on-going corruption cases. The comment appeared aimed at changes in Ecuador’s judicial structure instituted during the Correa years and followed the release of emails between Correa and the the country’s top court administrator that included conversations about particular court cases.

Moreno has also said he opposes the indefinite re-election of presidents and the role of CPCCS, which critics claim is an over-reach of executive authority that by-passes the National Assembly.

So far, no dates have been proposed for a referendum but if it contains questions relating to elected officials it must occur before February 2018, a year ahead of the next national election.

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