Electoral processes involve a transfer dynamic. On the one hand, citizens permanently make value judgments about the management of a government or of a politician, while those aspiring to power dispute the representation through which they assume an alleged popular will that we transfer to them. This transfer, through voting, translates into greater or lesser legitimacy for the winners, which is used as a justification for imposing an agenda. This dynamic is fundamental in the conflict between the Executive and the Legislative Power, or the so-called conflict of powers.
In the vote, the Ecuadorians elected Guillermo Lasso to lead the country for the next four years. Meanwhile, in the first round, citizens elected members of the Legislative Branch, where the president-elect’s party won just 12 of the 137 seats. In this context, Lasso will have to seek agreements with other benches in search of governance and avoid confrontation.
FROM THE CONFLICT OF POWERS TO GOOD GOVERNANCE
Although the conflict of powers left aside the resolution of the conflict through praetorian ways, a strong conflict between the Executive and the Legislative could seriously affect the stability of a government, although not of a regime.
In Ecuador, for the new administration that will be inaugurated in May 2021, everything will depend on three factors. First, the Executive’s ability to include popularly supported and cross-cutting measures in its agenda. Second, the cohesion of the benches in the Assembly under a logic of governance and not of revanchism. And finally, the degree of social conflict that develops as a result of the two previous factors.
Governance or “good government” in Ecuador, for the past 14 years, has depended on hyperpresidentialism – predominant in the region – that has practically stripped itself of checks and balances due to comfortable legislative majorities. This reduced the possibilities for initiatives by unofficial political groups to a minimum and, within this framework, the struggle for power overcame the plurality and consensus that should characterize a democratic regime.
Presidentialism itself implies a personification of power and, with it, a political and social conflict. Therefore, the institutional conditions that have to process these conflict thresholds become essential. Taking into account the governmental apparatus cultivated for more than a decade in Ecuador, it is urgent that the new president direct institutionalism under the categorical imperative of shared agreements and objectives. That is, an effective participation of all political forces in decision-making, in order to establish a legitimate “good government”.
According to official results, the first majority in the National Assembly falls in the coalition of UNES (Union for Hope), a conglomerate of organizations linked to the political project of ex-president Rafael Correa, who won 49 of the 137 seats. The left-wing Plurinational Unity Movement Pachakutik has consolidated itself as the second force with 26 seats, while the Democratic Left completes the trilogy of the most voted lists that, in the inaugural session, are expected to direct the election of future legislative authorities.
With this fragmentation landscape, the agreements are essential for the governing party, which has barely 12 legislators. Democratic Left and Pachakutik, on the other hand, are called upon to form alliances with other lawmakers to form a majority, if they do not want control to fall into the corridor wing.
Consequently, the president-elect will have to expand his ideological threshold to integrate the center-left positions represented by the Democratic Left and Pachakutik, if what he is looking for is governance and a certain margin of maneuver. Correismo, in turn, will have to decide whether to consolidate itself in the Legislative – with fragile agreements – or to join the talks, leaving aside the stigma of hermetic political behavior, which translates into a great opportunity for the Executive to get around the power struggle.
The power struggle has in its genesis a crisis of legitimacy. This dispute has been historic in Ecuador, the product of a multiparty system, added to the political culture with a tendency to personal and / or regional leadership. All of this in the context of a presidential regime that rarely managed to establish Executive-Legislative “double legitimacy”.
In times like these, it is imperative to reach agreements and establish common goals in order to overcome the deep crisis that the country is going through. A conflict of powers in this context, in addition to being catastrophic, would be a clear sign of the lack of political will on the part of our representatives. This, in a scenario of tired democracies where the commitments and actions for the well-being of the majority are more than ever necessary.
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