Following last week’s election defeat for President Rafael Correa’s PAIS party in the country’s largest cities, talk of changing the consitition to allow Correa to seek a third term has resurfaced.
The subject came up a year ago, following the 2013, election but was quashed when Correa said he planned to leave office in 2017. On Saturday, during his weekly television show, the president said has not ruled out the possibility of another term but was otherwise noncommittal.
Gabriela Rivadeneira, president of the National Assembly and a PAIS ally of the president said said that members of the assembly plan to bring up the subject for dedate. Since the consitition, adopted in 2008, allows a president to serve only two terms, a complicated process is required a change.
Although Rivadeneira denied that talk of changing the constitution was related to last Sunday’s defeat of PAIS candidates, some political observers said it indicated a fear that PAIS might lose the presidency in the 2017 election. “They are obviously running scared because of the election,” says Rafael Ortiz, a consultant for several candidates that defeated PAIS candidates in last week’s election.
In addition to Rivadeneira, former assembly president and current director of the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS) Fernando Cordero says that the PAIS supporters should rally behind a change of constitutional change.
“In PAIS, we have an undisputed leader in Rafael Correa. We should make the change that allows him to run for another term,” says Cordero. “His reelection would insure that the Citizen’s Revoluation will continue.”
The process to change the consititution requires a process of debates and vote of a super majority of the assembly. PAIS holds a comfortable majority in the assembly but it is not known if all party members and those allied with the party would vote for a change.
Before debate can begin, however, it must be formally proposed by either 8% of the country’s voters or by the president himself.
If Correa again says he is not interested in seeking a third term, the issue of a constitutional amendment is probably moot.
Last year, Correa said he had promised his Belgium-born wife that he would not run again, even if the consititution was changed. The family owns a home in Belgium and Correa has said he was considering returning to academic life at a European university. Correa earned his master degree in economics in Belgium and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in the U.S., and was a professor before running for president in 2006.
Photo caption: President Rafael Correa