Ecuador election chief hopes women not “filler” on vote parity lists

Quito, Jun 6 (EFE).- The head of Ecuador’s National Election Council (CNE), Diana Atamaint, said in an interview with EFE that she hopes that the recent ruling by the Electoral Dispute Court (TCE) that gender parity be included on the lists of candidates for the August elections does not result in women being placed on those lists simply as “filler.”

Last week, Electoral Judge Angel Torres ordered the CNE to “comply with the principle of equity, parity, alternation (and) sequentiality between women and men” in the extraordinary election to choose the country’s president and vice president and to elect lawmakers to serve in the National Assembly, as Ecuador’s parliament is known.

The ruling obligated the CNE to extend the deadline for candidate registration by three days, from June 10 to June 13, but it retained Aug. 20 as the date for the first electoral round and Oct. 15 for the runoff round, if necessary.

The August elections have been scheduled as a result of the process of so-called “cross death” implemented on May 17 by conservative President Guillermo Lasso, whereby he dissolved the Assembly and forced the early elections to select officials to complete the 2021-2025 electoral term.

Lasso is ruling by decree until his successor takes office, given that he will not run for reelection, but his use of the “cross death” prerogative allowed him to avoid a vote of no confidence in the Assembly, where the opposition majority had accused him of embezzlement, a charge that he claims is baseless.

According to the third transitory provision of the Ecuadorian Democracy Code, approved in 2020, parity on the candidate lists must prevail starting with the elections following the general elections after the law entered into force.

However, Atamaint said that since the upcoming balloting is an extraordinary election to ensure that officials are in place to serve out the 2021-2025 presidential term, the obligation set forth in the law did not apply and the candidate lists for the National Assembly would include only 30 percent women.

In addition, the CNE president said that when she and other officials discussed the matter with the political organizations on the Advisory Council, it was agreed that there was not enough time to get enough women and young people into place as candidates for the legislative seats due to the precipitous call for the nationwide vote.

But now, after the TCE ruling, the 50 percent requirement for the candidate lists must be fulfilled in the legislative elections, as well as for the president-vice president pairing.

“We’re hoping that with the fulfillment of parity in the presidential elections and the 50 percent split on the (candidate lists), we women … will not simply be filler to comply with the law,” she said.

Atamaint noted that, when the gender parity reform was proposed, the political parties acknowledged that they were not prepared to implement it, and so it was agreed to gradually increase female inclusion on the lists from 15 percent to 30 percent, and then to up it to 50 percent.

In the first two phases of the process, female participation expectations were surpassed, a situation that showed that “with enough time” the gender-equal representation could be “successfully” achieved, she said.

Atamaint said that after the implementation of the gender parity requirement will come the challenge for the CNE to conform to the political parties in terms of “all the responsibilities of the elected authorities, above all (in terms of) women and young people.”

She said that those political parties who don’t have enough time to get to 50 percent and don’t have the internal strength to do so are going to have to improvise, and “that will be regrettable, but we have hopes that that won’t happen” and that candidates will emerge “who will be up to the situation.”

She said that after the upcoming elections, the 50 percent requirement – including the man-woman or woman-man configuration of all presidential-vice presidential pairs – will have to be adhered to.

“There won’t be any more (percentage) increases, but if the political parties want to have more women in their ranks as presidential candidates, that will also be worth congratulating,” she said.

EFE –/bp

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