The challenges of the new Ecuadorian government are those of Latin America – 06/08/2021 – Latinoamérica21

The electoral cycle is underway in Latin America and, in addition to corroborating the hypothesis of the ideological pendulum –between turning to the right or returning to the left–, social uncertainty reigns in most countries.

This is the result of the economic crisis, the inability of governments to face the effects of the pandemic and the political fragmentation expressed in the progressive exhaustion of traditional parties in Chile and Colombia, the attempt to return to 21st century socialism in Brazil and the expectation of a change of ideological signal in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Colombia.

Furthermore, one cannot lose sight of the outbreaks of social discontent in Paraguay and Colombia and the possible uprisings in Ecuador and Peru if the crises are not resolved. And Venezuela has become an intractable issue.

The quality of democracy in the Andean region is going through one of its worst moments. Ecuador and Peru reached the second round with a deep fragmentation and crisis of political representation. In the first case, 16 candidates ran for president and, in the second, 18. The hegemonic era of traditional parties since the third wave of democratization in the early 1980s has ended.

In Ecuador, the last three elections took place in the binarism of corerism versus anti-correism and in Peru, the legacy of Fujimorism was not overcome either. In Colombia, the decline of the oligarchy that ruled, indistinctly, from liberalism and conservatism in its different factions, is evident. And there is also no way out of pro and anti-Uribism. In all three cases, personalization of policy is an explanatory element of polarization.

The presidential elections in Ecuador were in favor of the opponent of the Citizen’s Revolution. But, in the Assembly, the movement led by Rafael Correa from Belgium represents the first political force with 49 of the 137 seats.

In this sense, the government of Guillermo Lasso, of liberal and conservative cut, is obliged to permanently negotiate with the parties represented in the Legislative that have very different agendas, such as Pachakutik, Izquierda Democrática, the Social Christian Party and the same coreism as UNES.

Although the ruling CREO party has had a presence in political life in the last three periods, this is the first time it has governed and this implies other types of actions in the short, medium and long term.

The definition of the economic policy is the main test for political stability, since, unlike the public policy, which enjoyed the biggest oil bonanza (2007-2014), the current situation, as in most countries in the region, is disastrous.

Unemployment affects 7 out of 10 young people between the ages of 16 and 35, and 4 out of 10 people live on $2 a day. Added to this is a growing fiscal deficit and a series of social phenomena such as chronic child malnutrition, a high rate of teenage pregnancy, and insecurity and violence in the streets.

President Lasso said the best economic measure is to vaccinate nine million people in 100 days to achieve herd immunization. But how to reactivate the economy, set in motion the engine of social confidence and appease the attempts to destabilize its political opponents?

At the moment, the president has a majority in the Assembly for the election of the main authorities. But this majority is due to the support of the parties that were in third and fourth place –Democratic Left and Pachakutik, which have very different agendas– leaving out correismo.

The question is: how long will this alliance last? This complex scenario that Ecuador is experiencing could be repeated in Peru and Chile, since the emergence of new actors for the Constituent Assembly does not guarantee a majority either.

On May 24, Ecuador’s independence day, the new government took office. A few days earlier, the Assembly had elected its authorities, leaving out the cornyism of any office despite being the biggest political force, and the president had broken with his natural ally, the right-wing Christian Social Party. The first could be explained by political binarism, but the second leaves doubts because an agreement was being prepared between the antagonistic parties in an agenda that is porous and beyond the citizen’s understanding.

On the other hand, the Assembly in Ecuador is led, for the first time in its history, by a woman representing indigenous peoples and nationalities and her party, Pachakutik, represents the second political force. This is a double step forward in terms of political rights for women and indigenous people.

In his inauguration, Lasso highlighted this fact and the gear of his speech revolved around four aspects. The first was the restoration of republican life from a perspective of liberal democracy, where its goal is the elimination of caudilloism and authoritarianism. The second was the insertion into a globalized world based on a policy of trade agreements and treaties. The third was the promotion of human rights and the progressiveness of socioeconomic rights for women. And finally, the reunification of the country.

This ambitious vision has already been put to the test with the first announcements of protests and mobilizations against him by various social sectors that did not even allow him to debut his government in peace. Fragmentation is a reality and governance is the biggest challenge.

*Translation from Spanish by Maria Isabel Santos Lima, a pluralist media committed to disseminating critical and truthful information about Latin America.

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