Correa sings of victory, Lasso mum in facing referendum defeat

By Fernando Gimeno

Quito, Feb 6 (EFE).- From an unknown location in Mexico City, leftist former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Sunday, guitar in hand, sang a song of victory after it was confirmed that his new political movement, Citizens Revolution, was the big winner in his country’s local elections.

Meanwhile, in Carondelet Palace, in the heart of Quito’s old town, current Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, a conservative, remained silent in the face of the probable defeat he will suffer in the referendum held by his government to get public approval for reforms to the 2008 Constitution, the one put into place by Correa.

These are the two faces of the election that reflected the resurgence of Correismo by winning assorted local elections in Ecuador’s provinces and largest cities, where voters appear to have turned their backs on the government’s proposals on security, democracy and the environment.

In elections that are viewed as a barometer for the 2025 presidential election, Citizen Revolution (RC5), moved from winning two prefectures in 2019 to winning six this time around, with a seventh still in dispute.

With almost 100 percent of votes counted, Correismo not only managed to preserve its bastions in the provinces of Pichincha, the capital of which is Quito, and Manabi, but also win the coastal province of Guayas, the traditional fiefdom of the conservative Christian Social party (PSC) and one of the biggest defeats for the government.

Correa’s party also won the prefecture of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas and is very mathematically close to prevailing in Imbabura and Sucumbios, while it is fighting for every vote in the southern Andean prefecture of Azuay, the capital of which is Cuenca.

If it also wins in Azuay, RC5 will control almost one third of Ecuador’s 24 provinces until at least 2027.

In addition, Correismo won the mayorships in some of the most important cities, including Quito, Guayaquil and Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas.

“We achieved the impossible: We’re once again the Citizen Revolution,” an exultant Correa posted on the social networks, following the results of the elections and the referendum from Mexico, since it is impossible for him to return to Ecuador, where he is facing an eight-year prison term for corruption.

The ex-president – who has always maintained his innocence of all the charges and has denounced them as persecution designed to keep him out of Ecuador’s political sphere, and who has lived in Belgium since 2017, where he claims to have refugee status – celebrated the win played the guitar and singing “Everything changes, but my love doesn’t change no matter how far away I am.”

Amid all this, Lasso was to have delivered a message to the nation on Sunday night to comment on the election results, but he canceled it when the early voting results began to come in.

The governing party, which did not win any provincial prefecture, had placed all its hopes in the referendum, a consultation with eight amendments to the Constitution, where – for the moment – the “no” vote is leading throughout the country.

The most relevant questions to be decided upon focused on allowing the extradition of Ecuadorians on charges related to organized crime, reducing the number of assembly members, setting a minimum number of members for political movements and eliminating the power of the Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS) to appoint state officials like the attorney general and comptroller.

The extradition proposals, reducing the assembly members and the CPCCS proposal received “no” votes of 53.87 percent, 53.75 percent and 55.46 percent, respectively, with 47.1 percent, 38.5 percent and 31.81 percent of the votes counted so far on those three matters.

If these results are confirmed in the final vote tally, the government will have suffered a serious defeat, since it had expected a comfortable victory in the referendum, according to earlier voter surveys such as one by the Cedatos survey firm done the day before the balloting, which found that between 59 percent and 74 percent of those surveyed said they would vote “yes” on the eight questions.

Correa appears to have expected the actual results, however, relying on his party’s own polling that ultimately appears to have proved more accurate than the other surveys.

The new provincial and municipal officials will begin serving on May 24, when a fresh political scenario will unfold in Ecuador with Correismo significantly strengthened with an eye on the 2025 presidential vote.

EFE fgg/sm/bp

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