The “quiet” period preceding Sunday’s local elections went into effect at midnight with a potential conflict brewing between President Rafael Correa and Ecuador’s election commission. All campaigning and news coverage of the campaign is prohibited during the 48 hours before an election. The period also includes a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages, either by the drink or in containers.
Correa, who campaigned in Cuenca Thursdsay, says he may defy a request by the director of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the commision that manages elections, to cancel his Saturday television broadcast, or Sabatino, to maintain political neutrality during the quiet period. In the past, Correa has honored the request but says he has not decided if he will hold the broadcast or not. In last week’s broadcast, Correa promoted the Quito work of mayor Augusto Barrera, who is in a tight race with challenger Mauricio Rodas.
Domingo Paredes of CNE said that any mention of Quito would be a violation of election rules. Paredes did not say what action, if any, he would take if Correa proceeds with the broadcast.
Election observers say that the election may carry extra significance as a referendum on Correa’s “Citizens’ Revolution.” In addition to Barrera, Cuenca’s mayor Paúl Granda, also a member of Correa’s PAIS party, is in tight campaign with former Cuenca mayor Marcelo Cabrera. A loss by both candidates would be an embarrassment for the president.
Voting hours on Sunday are from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m.
Legal residents of Ecuador are eligible to vote if they are registered. Eligibility can be verified on the CNE website, www.cne.gob.ec, by clicking on the “Consulta Lugar de Votación” box at the top right of the home page. The website will provide the voting address and map for those who have registered.
Photo caption: Domingo Paredes of CNE has asked Rafael Correa to cancel his weekly television broadcast Saturday.