At 7:00 a.m. local time, Ecuadoreans will go to the polls – one month after major campaign build ups and multiple shocking last-minute resignations – for a multi-question referendum.
According to the foreign ministry, voters across 46 countries, including Australia, Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Iran, Russia, Belarus, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Italy and Spain, have already begun to cast ballots.
Even Ecuador's left movement was split around the referendum, with one wing promoting a ‘Yes’ vote on all seven referendum questions, while the other strongly opposed the referendum campaigning for a ‘No’ vote.
Voters are divided between "Yes" advocates – led by President Lenin Moreno – and "No" supporters headed by former President Rafael Correa's Citizens' Revolution movement. The latter has curated the backing of a 28-member PAIS Alliance break away faction.
The referendum or "popular consultation" aims to resolve the following seven hot-button issues:
Issue 1: Suppressing political rights to corruption convicts
Issue 2: Limiting indefinite re-election
Issue 3: Restructuring the Council for Citizen Participation
Issue 4: Protection of children
Issue 5: Restrict metal mining
Issue 6: Eliminate the Law on taxation of capital gains on property
Issue 7: Expand Yasuní Intangible Zone
Thirty-six groups were approved by the National Electoral Council (CNE) to campaign for a “Yes,” while the National Forum for Women and two workers' unions are reportedly supporting the “No” vote.
In addition to massive campaigning, three top officials abruptly stepped down from their positions prior to the election. They are Guillaume Long, Ecuador’s permanent representative to the United Nations; Jose Cordova, mining minister; and State Prosecutor, Diego Garcia.
“The existing concern as an international observer stems from the legitimacy of the National Electoral Council, another worrisome fact is the recent resignation from [state] institutions and the speeding-up the elections,” Vice President of the Andean Parliament and international observer, Mariano Gonzalez, told teleSUR.
However, representative of the National Electoral Council, Diego Tello, guarantees that the Council will ensure the process is accurately completed, though the 120-day organizing time frame was missed.