The old National Assembly was the ‘worst in history’; Can the new Assembly return to ‘governability’?

Aug 23, 2023 | 0 comments

By Liam Higgins

Almost all members of the newly elected National Assembly agree that the Assembly disbanded by President Guillermo Lasso’s cross death decree was the least effective in the history of Ecuadorian legislatures. Although they disagree on the reasons, they say the goal of the Assembly that takes its seats later this year is to return to governability.

Pierina Correa, leader of Citizens Revolution

“The last Assembly left office with a positive rating of 4% or 5% by Ecuadorians and most people say it was the worst ever, so we are certainly in a position to do much better,” says Valentina Centeno of the new National Democratic Action party. “The challenge we face is overcoming our differences and working in a spirit of cooperation and cordiality for the good of the country.”

The challenge she describes includes creating working relationships among an overwhelmingly new cast of Assembly characters. Gone entirely is the third largest voting bloc, the Democratic Left. Vastly reduced is the indigenous Pachakutik party, which will drop from 25 to five seats.

In their place are the Construye Movement, the party of assassinated presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, which is expected to have 29 or 30 seats once vote-counting is concluded; the National Democratic Action party, supporter of presidential challenger Daniel Noboa, with 13 or 14; and Actuemos, Otto Sonnenholzner’s party, with seven.

The returning blocs include the largest, Citizens Revolution, which grows from 48 to 52 or 53 seats, and the Social Christian party, has 16 seats.

Pierina Correa, leader of Citizens Revolution and brother of the movement’s founder Rafael Correa, agrees with Centeno that cooperation will be essential in the new Assembly. “The election results are less than we had hoped for, but we are confident we can work effectively with the new parties and their members,” Pierina says. “The problem in the old Assembly was that we could not find common ground with a president who was not willing to negotiate. That will change when Luisa Gonzalez is elected in October,” she says, adding: “Even, God forbid, if Luisa doesn’t win, we believe can work with her challenger.”

New Assembly member and retired general Patricio Carrillo believes governability will return to the country no matter who wins. “President Lasso was unyielding with the last Assembly and the Assembly was unyielding to him,” Carrillo says. “Some of it was personality and some of it was ideology. Lasso was a political rightist and disagreed with many of the Assembly’s objectives. And, of course, at the end everything turned into a war when impeachment began.”

Carrillo, a member of Construye, believes the new Assembly can work well with Noboa if he wins the presidential runoff. “He is a center-leftist and voted with the Correistas more than he did with Lasso in the last Assembly. If Luisa wins, I think we can work with her too. I know her personally and she is a responsible, effective leader.”

Carrillo adds: “There will be big differences between us in the new Assembly, but we must avoid doing what the last Assembly did, which was promoting opposition merely to oppose the other side. Since we all believe in democracy, we must agree to resolve our differences civilly, through dialogue.”

Pierina Correa admits that Citizens Revolution will have a more difficult time forming partnerships in the new Assembly but believes her party’s agenda will advance. “We have plans we want to implement and through cooperation with other constituencies I know we can accomplish many of them.”

Ultimately, Correa says, the Assembly’s focus must be on the common good. “The country is in crisis, and we can’t afford to be dysfunctional. We must attack crime and insecurity collectively and we must create jobs that benefit Ecuadorian families.”


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