By José Hernández
If he does the math, former president Rafael Correa is forced to acknowledge that, in the past two weeks, he is a three-time loser.
In the March 24 election, he and his supporters hoped to win control of the Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS) as well as make a strong showing in local elections. He also hoped to derail the appointment of new attorney general Diana Salazar.
He failed on all three counts.
The Correistas were only able to elect two of seven members to CPCCS, a board with powers to appoint key non-elected government officials. They face more CPCCS headwinds from the National Assembly, which is currently considering reducing the council’s authority, and from Julio César Trujillo, current head of CPCCS, and Guillermo Lasso, former presidential candidate, who are pushing a referendum to eliminate the council altogether.
The election results from sectional races represent another major disappointment. Although we await official confirmation, it appears that the Correistas were only able to muster 15% of the national vote. For a political movement that maintained absolute hegemony for a decade, the returns are an undeniable setback. Victories in two prefectures, Pichincha and Manabí provinces, cannot hide the overall defeat.
The selection of Diana Salazar as attorney general is perhaps the biggest blow for Correa and his followers. The dirty, racist social media campaign against Salazar failed miserably and Correista hopes of landing a top prosecutor friendly to their interests were dashed. Salazar, who is responsible in part for putting former vice president Jorge Glas behind bars, will no doubt continue to pursue corruption cases against Correa and his henchmen.
Among other things, the three defeats mean that the Correistas will be unable to curb the presidential momentum of Jaime Nebot, Guillermo Lasso and Gustavo Larrea into the 2021 presidential election.
The common thread of the defeats is the failure to significantly discredit and weaken President Lenin Moreno and, at the same time, strengthen the Correista cause. Efforts to cast Moreno as simply another corrupt official have achieved some success but they ultimately fail by alleging that Moreno engaged in the same corrupt activities as Correa. The campaign has boomeranged.
For the former president and his devotees, it is another case of spitting into the wind.
José Hernández is a Colombian-born journalist and artist currently living in Ecuador. He is a contributor to the political commentary website 4Pelegatos.