Ecuador: A new political map

Source: Latin America Press

Following ruling party’s defeat at the polls, Correa looks to control land use and local governments.

For seven years, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa seemed unbeatable in elections. He won with margins that it seemed impossible to defeat him, especially given the results on Feb. 17, 2013. That election day, Correa was reelected in the first round of voting and garnered near 90 percent of the seats in the National Assembly, which allowed him to push through laws he wanted and block any bills from the opposition.

Just over a year later, on Feb. 23, Correa had his first electoral setback, showing his weaknesses and the internal frictions within his Alianza País movement. It was the first indication he could be defeated.

That day, elections were held for the country’s 24 provincial prefectures, as well as for the mayors of parishes and municipalities in Ecuador’s three-tier political administrative system. Although the ruling party Alianza País remains the leading political force and won the majority of mayoral and prefecture seats, the fact that it lost control of major cities and several provinces has created a feeling of triumph for those who oppose Correa’s government — especially the right, which took control of Quito and maintained power in Guayaquil.

Although several local factors triggered Alianza País defeat, the common denominator was excessive interference by the president on the campaign trail, which didn’t allow local candidates strengthen their image of authority.

“In Azuay we don’t like people to speak for us,” reelected Prefect Paúl Carrasco said during his campaign, representing a leftist coalition that included the indigenous movement. With this, Carrasco was also emphasizing that ruling party candidates didn’t have their own voice and were letting the administration speak for them — a move that proved counterproductive for the campaigns in this southern province that is committed to developing itself autonomously. The ruling party also lost the mayoral elections in Azuay’s capital of Cuenca.

In Quito, the vote against Correa was more obvious, even if the president wouldn’t recognize it, to the point that he asked the voters to spoil their votes. He cited the poor image of then-mayor Augusto Barrera, a ruling party member who ran for reelection. “Ultimately if they don’t get the vote and there’s an anti-Barrera vote, they should annul the vote. But don’t give it to the enemy,” Correa said days before the election. Ultimately, Mauricio Rodas of the Suma Movement won, representing a renewed Ecuadoran right.

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