President’s office receives more than 200 questions for referendum and expects more today

Sep 27, 2017 | 1 comment

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 200 questions had been submitted for possible inclusion on a national referendum called by President Lenin Moreno. According to Secretary of Policy Management, Miguel Carvajal, many more questions are expected today, the deadline for submissions.

Protesters in Quito want the elimination of capital gains tax.

The questions come from political parties, labor unions, local governments, various interest groups and individual citizens. Moreno had asked the public for suggestions during his weekly television broadcast, two weeks ago.

Carvajal welcomed the suggestions and said the president’s staff are evaluating them as they come in. “We cannot include all questions on the referendum, of course, but will consider those that have the greatest public interest,” he said. “The president will announce the questions that will be included October 2.”

Among the questions submitted Tuesday was one that would end mining in southern Ecuador, including Azuay Province, and another that could lead to the repeal of a new real estate capital gains tax, or plusvalia, passed during the Rafael Correa presidency. The mining questions came from the Cuenca municipal council and the indigenous group CONAIE. The question about the capital tax was submitted by representatives of two construction industry groups.

On Tuesday, there were peaceful marches in Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil advocating the inclusion of several issues on the referendum ballot.

According to political analysts, the focus of the referendum will be questions that would reduce the size and scope of government. “President Moreno believes that some of the constitutional amendments and laws passed during the Correa presidency took away rights of the citizens and he wants those rolled back,” says Carlos Espinosa, a political consultant and adjunct professor at San Francisco University in Quito.

The most controversial question that will probably appear on the ballot, says Espinosa, is one asking voters if Ecuador should scrap an amendment allowing a president to run for reelection indefinitely and return to two four-year terms mandated in the 2009 constitution. Including the question on the referendum is opposed by Correa’s supporters in the Alianza País political party.

“If the term-limit question appears on the ballot and passes — and I think passage is almost certain if it does — it effectively means Correa is out of power,” says Espinosa. “Despite his call for referendum suggestions, Moreno’s primary purpose here is to remake the government to his liking and to remove the vestiges of the Correa regime.”