With progressive candidate Andrés Arauz the favourite to become Ecuador’s next president, attacks on the country’s democracy are escalating rapidly.
In 11 April, the people of Ecuador will cast their final vote to elect the country’s next president.
But as we approach the second round of Ecuador’s presidential election, the attacks on its democracy are escalating rapidly.
In the last month alone, we have seen calls for a military coup published in Ecuador’s most popular newspapers, efforts to disqualify candidates with false accusations of fraud and an attempt to confiscate its voting databases for an illegal ‘audit’ of the first-round votes.
The presidential elections in Ecuador arrive in a context of severe economic, social and political crisis. Mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated communities across the country, with poverty rates soaring over 10 per cent since the start of the pandemic and economic output falling by over 10 per cent over the same time period. Doctors in Ecuador are now reporting a major spike in Covid-19 cases, adding to a death toll that ranks among the highest in the region.
Meanwhile, the Lenin Moreno government has been rocked by a vaccine scandal in which its members were caught red-handed giving out vaccines to their rich and powerful friends before the rest of the country. A wave of resignations from the Moreno government has ensued, fuelling discontent with a president who already had the lowest approval rating on record at just 7 per cent.
The 11 April elections therefore present a critical opportunity for the people of Ecuador to reclaim the constitutional rights that have been denied by the Moreno government. The right to health, to the right to decent work, and the right to popular sovereignty: Moreno and the creditors at the International Monetary Fund have threatened all three of them with an agenda of austerity and privatisation. The stakes of this election for all Ecuadorian citizens could not be higher.
But a range of political actors are conspiring against them. Over the course of the last several weeks, we have once again seen attempts by actors inside and outside Ecuador to interfere and undermine the integrity of the electoral process.
Inside of Ecuador, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Office of the Comptroller have come together to attack the National Electoral Council with false charges of electoral fraud, calling to confiscate their digital databases and annul their first-round vote count.
Outside of Ecuador, the Attorney General of Colombia has colluded with the Office of the Prosecutor to attack candidate Andrés Arauz with absurd lies about a loan from the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army [based in Colombia] to his presidential campaign.
It is for this reason that the Progressive International is mobilising again to Ecuador. During the first round of these elections, international observation delegations like ours played a critical role in resisting these antidemocratic pressures. Now, once again, bringing parliamentarians and data scientists from around the world, our delegation will travel across the country to help ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
Alborada is part of Progressive International’s Wire service.