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News > Ecuador

Ecuador Midterms To Elect 5,000 Local Officials Begin

  • Ecuadorean citizens in Madrid are voting for the 2019 local elections.

    Ecuadorean citizens in Madrid are voting for the 2019 local elections. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 March 2019
Opinion

Local elections have started in Ecuador which will see around 5,000 local authorities being elected in the country for the 2019-2024 term. 

Elections for local officials in Ecuador started at 7 a.m. Sunday. In addition, the 13 million eligible Ecuadorean voters are being called on to vote for the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs) for the 2019-2024 term.

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Voting will last till 5 p.m. local time. It will see the election of 23 prefects and an equal number of Vice-prefects, 221 city and town mayors, 867 city and 438 rural councilpeople, as well as 4,089 members of parish boards.

For the first time, people will also vote for the seven main members of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs), a fact which has generated some controversy.

The council was founded in 2008 during former President Rafael Correa's term and functions as a fourth branch of government with independent powers stipulated by the constitution to appoint officials to the Public Defender's office, the Inspector General's office, and all Superintendancies of the state. The intention of the council is to reduce corruption and increase transparency.

Three days before elections, however, the National Electoral Council (CNE) debated new rules to change how abstention votes are counted. Basically, each null ballot will be equivalent to three null votes instead of one. This is signficant because if abstentions acquire more votes than any candidate, the law requires a new election with the same candidates restricted from running again. 

This change would be unconstitutional since the Ecuadorian constitution of 2008 stipulates in article 117 that "it is prohibited from carrying out legal reforms in electoral matters during the year prior to the holding of elections."

Some have argued that this is a strategy by the right to challenge the legitimacy of the Cpccs and thus, press for a referendum to seek a redesign or elimination of the institution.

The National Electoral Council ( CNE ) inaugurated the elections at its headquarters at 6:30 a.m. local time in the presence of the Vice President of the Republic, Otto Sonnenholzner.

For citizens between 15 to 65 years, voting is obligatory and those who won’t vote will be fined 10 percent of the minimum wage i.e. US$39.40.

The first results are expected to be announced at 8:30 p.m. local time.

For people over 65 years old or 75 percent disabled, voting started Thursday during which, they can vote at home. More than 20,000 foreigners residing in Ecuador are also allowed to vote.

On Saturday, voting started for Ecuadoreans living abroad but they are only allowed to vote for the seven main Cpccs members.

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