Regarding the four popular consultations, promoted in the previous government, a budget of $ 102 million was allocated. The first was held in 2007 and the last was unified with the 2017 presidential elections. During the 10 years of the government of former President Rafael Correa, Ecuadorians attended the polls seven times; in total, $ 545,608,067 were allocated in the democratic processes.
In 2007 and 2008, the people were summoned to elect a Constituent Assembly and an approving referendum for the new Constitution; in 2009, the presidential candidates advanced and unified with the sectional ones. In 2011 the polls were called to consult in 10 questions the change of the judicial system, Communication Law and issues related to Social Security affiliation and shows with animals, which they won, but with a small percentage.
Additionally, although they were not of a national nature, there were processes for the provincialization of Santa Elena and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and the cantonization of Quinsaloma, in the province of Los Ríos.
The votes, the majority, were characterized by a favorable pronouncement, but this phenomenon was due to the fact that the former president took advantage of the citizen discontent in his favor. “(The former president) Correa knew how to collect that dissatisfaction with the role played by the State and raised a speech that collected that for his benefit,” says Fausto Camacho, coordinator of the Citizen Electoral Observatory.
This practice, implemented more than 10 years ago, responds to an “abuse of democracy, in which practically dictatorial governments, based on popular elections and democratic practices, sought to stay even though there is no balance in the functions of the State,” says Andrés León, ex-vocal of the disappeared Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE for its acronym in spanish).
The democratic processes were not enough, in addition the TSE that was functioning since 1945 was eliminated and the National Electoral Council was created as a measure, supposedly, to “dispartitize” the organization. “We constantly suffered the attacks of Mr. Correa, who qualified us as a tribunal of the party-docracy,” says Jorge Acosta, the last president of the former body.
He recalls the constant conflicts between the then National Congress, the TSE and the Executive for the consultation proposals. “When we were members of the TSE we were seven vowels from seven different parties and this made some kind of mutual control,” he says. This was changed with the new National Electoral Council (CNE for its acronym in spanish) because, according to Leon, its members were people of the same political line who obeyed orders from Carondelet, which was notorious.
He stressed that there was no need to change the institution and one proof is that “currently the Transitional Council took forms that had to do with the past system”. For the integration of the previous authorities of the National Electoral Council, merit and opposition contests were carried out criticized for the supposed lack of transparency. “They were cheating competitions, where the opposition and merit were not met, contestants were eliminated who were not related to the correísta model,” Camacho says.
These changes were not enough; In April 2009 the new Organic Electoral Law and Political Organizations came into force, which received the name of Code of Democracy and had reforms in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Diego Tello, former coordinator of electoral processes of the CNE, affirms that these changes had as objective to increase the citizen participation, for that reason there was the division of circumscriptions in the provinces of greater population. But among the reforms were questioned changes to the allocation of seats that established for provincial assembly members, the D’Hondt method was implemented and for the nationals, the Webster.
The criticisms were that the D’Hondt method did not benefit minorities. Initially, the Constitutional Court granted precautionary measures that suspended the validity of the changes. But then it was lifted at the request of the CNE, which alleged the proximity of other revocation proceedings.
“Those methods were skillfully applied with an insane intention, because they allowed the dominant group with 51% of the votes to reach more than 70% of the seats in the Assembly,” says Jorge Acosta, former president of the TSE.
For the upcoming electoral process, they agree that an unprecedented scenario is presented, as there are new electoral authorities. The movement of greater hegemony is no longer the same as before, the number of registered candidates has increased and new members of the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control will be elected.
“This competition (elections next March) will be very complex and if the CNE does not create enough trust in the voters and actors, we will have undesirable scenarios. Trust is created with facts, not statements, but time already has it on top, “warns Camacho. (I)