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  • Ramiro Gonzalez (L), head of Avanza party, Paul Carrasco (C), prefect of Azuay, and Jaime Nebot (R), mayor of Guayaquil, met in Cuenca, Jan. 19, 2016.

    Ramiro Gonzalez (L), head of Avanza party, Paul Carrasco (C), prefect of Azuay, and Jaime Nebot (R), mayor of Guayaquil, met in Cuenca, Jan. 19, 2016. | Photo: El Telegrafo

Published 20 January 2016

An opposition coalition in Ecuador has made for strange bedfellows, bringing together self-described leftists together with right-wing politicians.

Right-wing Ecuadorean politicians gathered in the southern city of Cuenca Tuesday to discuss their proposal for a united coalition opposed to the left-wing government of President Rafael Correa.

The group was founded by the prefect of the province of Azuay, Paul Carrasco, and includes the mayors of Ecuador's largest cities, Mauricio Rodas of Quito and Jaime Nebot of Guayaquil.

Nebot, an outspoken opponent of the Correa government, said that the first task of this coalition should be winning a majority in the country’s National Assembly.

It appeared to be the first open acknowledgment by Ecuador's political opposition that they have their sights set on the country's parliament, currently under control of Correa's PAIS Alliance party.

President Correa has recently taken to warning that this was precisely the strategy of the opposition.

The National Assembly has been extraordinarily busy during the nine years of the Correa government, passing 188 laws, while lawmakers are set to debate 36 new bills this year alone. Many of the laws being introduced and passed are aimed at bringing the country's laws in line with the 2008 constitution.

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Nebot singled out the 2013 Communications Law as needing to be repealed. That law democratizes the country's airwaves by evenly distributing the radio spectrum between state, private, and community outlets.

A recent addition to the opposition coalition is the Pachakutik party representative Marcelino Chumpi. Pachakutik is an Indigenous party which identifies itself as leftist. Chumpi was in attendance in an individual capacity, however Pachakutik hosted its own meeting Monday to establish unity among the various opposition groups and politicians, including representatives of parties that participated in the meeting in Cuenca.

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Quito Mayor Rodas was not present, but a representative from his party, SUMA, participated on his behalf.

They were also joined Tuesday by Ramiro Gonzalez, the head of the Avanza party, a self-described social democratic party that was once part of a governing coalition with PAIS Alliance.

Gonzalez and his party, which has five lawmakers inside the National Assembly, withdrew from the coalition over differences regarding the funding of Ecuador's social security system. He previously served as a minister under Correa.

Gonzalez and Correa recently traded barbs during a live televised debate on the government's economic policies.

Once again, banker and former presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso was absent from the meeting of right-wing politicians. Lasso has thus far not shown any intention in joining other opposition leaders and has already declared his intention to seek the presidency in 2017.

Correa announced in late 2015 that he would not seek an immediate third term as president.

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