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Ecuador: Uncertainty and Division

Ecuador: Uncertainty and Division

Last Saturday a controversial plebiscite took place in Ecuador. It consisted of two parts: five questions regarding press regulation, employees’ enrollment in the state pension system, unjustified enrichment, bullfighting, and gambling. The other five questions attempted to reform the three-year-old Ecuadorean Constitution in aspects such as justice authority and preventive detention.

The $30 million plebiscite itself didn’t take place without convolution. After an early count, the exit poll elaborated by Santiago Perez, the pollster hired by the government, stated the “triumph” of the majority supporting the regime. Indeed, the official newspaper’s headlines indicated the victory of the referendum by 62%.[1] Even Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, President Correa’s close ally, congratulated him for his “great victory”.[2]

While the officialism celebrated, the National Election Council undertook the official vote count. Soon the President was informed that the error in the exit poll had been of around 19,5% and the victory might not has been as absolute as he was told by his contracted pollster.[3] The victory margin appeared much lower than expected, and thus the celebration ended up in worries and uncertainties.

Forty-eight hours after de polls closed, the Council had only counted 41% of the total votes but the margins between “yes” and “no” are indeed very small, with some questions barely receiving support from half the voters. Although the small margins, the government declares victory and announces that it has its plan to apply the plebiscite results immediately.[4]

Two days later the balance of the Ecuadorean referendum was $30 million less in treasury, a divided nation, increasing doubt on where the country will stand, and multiplying uncertainty for the future. After this referendum, President Correa may have more power than before, but this election probably shows that the unconditional support he used to have is decreasing as his power increases.

Paola Ycaza has B.A. in Political Science and graduated with a B.A. in Economics (thesis pending). Currently she is working on her thesis on the Ecuadorian Pension System.

[1] El Telégrafo. El Sí ganó el referendo con un 62%, según datos de exit poll. May 7th, 2011

[2] Diario Expreso. “Chávez saluda “gran vitoria” de Correa en referéndo de Ecuador”. May 9th, 2011

[3] El Comercio. El “exit poll” de Pérez  falló en un 19,5%.” May 9th, 2011;exit_poll-rsquo;_de_perez_fallo_hasta_en_un_19,5–37;.aspx

[4] El Universo. “Presidente dice que tiene listo su plan para aplicar consulta”. May 8th, 2011