Towards an unstable government

Elections in Ecuador

October 20, 2006

As this edition goes to press, amidst accusations of
fraud, the preliminary election results indicate that
no candidate got enough votes to win in the first
round of balloting,. The outcome will be settled in a
second round on November 26 between the
multimillionaire banana entrepreneur Alvaro Noboa
(with twenty-six percent of the first round votes) of
the right wing Partido Renovador Institucional Acción
Nacional (PRIAN, the Institutional Renewal and
National Action Party), and the self-described
"Christian left" economist Rafael Correa (twenty-three
percent) of the Alianza País (National Alliance).

The regime’s crisis deepens

The results of the first round demonstrated the
profound crisis facing the regime and the traditional
parties, which saw their worst election ever. The
Christian Social party got about 9.5% of the vote, in
fifth place, while the candidate backed by the
Democratic Left was left in fourth place, behind the
surprising rise of Gilman Gutiérrez, brother of the
fallen president Lucio Gutiérrez, who came in third [1].

The situation demonstrates the regime’s terminal
crisis, in which Parliament has a a ninety-five
percent disapproval rating, where since 19976 no
elected president has served out his full term, and
where the masses have experienced bringing down three
governments in the past nine years.

The result also expresses a social and political
polarization, in which the right wing candidate Noboa,
who promised to support a free trade agreement with
the US, got most of his votes along the coast, where
most of the country’s economic activity is
concentrated, while Correa, with his campaign against
corruption, against free trade, and for a political
reform of the regime, got most of his votes in the
central region with the support of the middle classes
and the peasant and indigenous sectors, agricultural
producers who would be badly affected by free trade
with the US.

Nevertheless, despite being presented as opposing
candidates, both agree to maintain the dollarization
of the economy that threw millions of Ecuadorians into
misery after 2000. Correa, who is said to be a
"leftist" candidate, is for keeping the huge blow to
workers’ wages caused by this process, which keeps
half of all Ecuadorians in poverty and sixty percent
living on less than two dollars per day. His excuse is
that "it’s harder to get out of dollarization than it
is to get into it."

Towards an unstable government

Whatever the result of the second round may be, the
outlook is for a weak, unstable government. Either
candidate will have to make deals with the traditional
parties, which, while profoundly discredited, still
make up a large fraction of Parliament. A right wing
Noboa government would also have to face off against
the masses implement a free trade agreement with the
US along with its package of neoliberal reforms. On
the other hand, a Correa government without its own
parliamentarians, even though he is continuing to
harmonize his talk with the program of the traditional
parties, and weaving alliances with sectors of these
parties has he heads into the second round, could
encounter a strong opposition in congress which would
leave him in a very unstable position.

In this second round, neither the right wing Noboa,
nor the "leftist" Correa are an alternative. The
workers and poor people of Ecuador who saw with their
own eyes how the "nationalist" Lucio Gutiérrez became
a neoliberal, bringing about his downfall, can only
trust their own forces to end the misery and
exploitation to which every one of the bourgeois
parties subjects them.

Translated by Working Class Emancipation