By Ramiro Carrillo (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – The “Yes” vote triumphed Sunday in the popular consultation promoted by the president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, in which citizens were called to pronounce on seven political, social and environmental issues, including the possibility to end the indefinite re-election of the authorities.
When 98.52 percent of the votes were counted, the “yes” vote had a comfortable lead on all questions with between 63 and 74 percent of the votes, a trend that was considered irreversible, informed the National Electoral Council (CNE).
The majority of the population, 64.33 percent, spoke in favor of closing the doors to indefinite re-election, while 35.67 percent were against.
The vote came amid the current confrontation between President Moreno and his former ally and current political adversary of the Alianza País movement, former President Rafael Correa, who considered the referendum unconstitutional.
The Constitution will now be modified so that only one re-election will be allowed. In this way, Correa, who was president for two terms between 2007 and 2017 – and who managed to get his possible re-election later for another term approved during his government – can no longer be a candidate for the country’s presidency.
Of the seven questions, the one that obtained the highest percentage of approval (73.91 percent) was the one that proposed the elimination of the political rights of those sentenced for corruption.
Once the victory of the “yes” was known, Moreno said that the results were due to the dialogue opened by him since the beginning of his administration with all the national sectors. “Voting is also a dialogue, I thank you for your civic participation,” he said in a first evaluation surrounded by his cabinet and national authorities.
“The victory of ‘yes’ opens roads, it is time to embrace again,” he said in a call for reconciliation of Ecuadorians. Moreno also indicated that, after the results, the National Assembly will set in motion, in a period of 30 days, “the mechanisms for the pertinent reforms”, both of the Constitution and of the laws.
For his part, former President Correa, who led the “no” campaign to the referendum, congratulated his supporters and announced that his political struggle will continue. “No single movement can achieve the 36 percent we achieved, worse in such a short time and in such an unequal struggle. [He was referring to the Yes vote being supported by the government and several different movements.] The struggle continues, we cannot accept a constitutional breakdown,” he wrote on Twitter.
In an interview with the Venezuelan based Telesur TV, Correa even proclaimed himself victorious. “Obtaining 36 percent against the extreme right, an incredible media siege, with a political party that was stolen from us and a completely biased CNE … these results are a triumph,” he said.
In addition to consulting the population on whether they wanted to end the possibility for indefinite re-election and the elimination of political rights of those convicted of corruption, the referendum questioned citizens on issues such as eliminating the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against minors, the prohibition of metallic mining, the repeal of the Capital Gains Law – a legal instrument that generates a tax for the purchase-sale of real estate, in some cases up to 75 percent of its value-, the expansion of protected areas and the conformation by popular election of the body that designates the comptrollers.
The voting was carried out normally and within the framework of a high participation of the 13 million Ecuadorians registered. According to the CNE, 74 percent of the registered voters went to the polls, the highest attendance figure ever recorded in an election in Ecuador.
The consultation had generated great controversy because it proposed changes in some points that were key during the Correa government, such as indefinite re-election.
In seeking to overturn these policies, Moreno made clear his goal of distancing himself from his predecessor and making a government with his own style, less confrontational.
Correa, for his part, questioned during the campaign the direct sending of the query from the executive to the CNE without waiting for a pronouncement from the Constitutional Court. In addition, he said to prohibit the indefinite reelection of presidents [referring to himself] is a setback of rights.
The controversy affected the unity of the Alianza País Movement (AP), thanks to which Correa and Moreno reached the presidency, which was divided in two. This rupture was also evident in the National Assembly.