On August 22, the new Ecuadorian parliament completed its first 100 days in office. These first months give us a vision of the fronts that will mark the relationship between the Legislative and the Executive led by Guillermo Lasso. And the face that is beginning to position itself as the key for the next two years is that of Guadalupe Llori, an indigenous deputy from the Pachakutik party who embodies the resistance to the creation of a common left front together with correismo, the main political group in this new legislature.
The controversial and hard-fought Ecuadorian presidential elections showed the important electoral weight that the right to vote still has. However, on the other hand, especially in the second round, the enormous rejection it provoked among its opponents was also evident. This was expressed, to some extent, in the allocation of seats in the new National Assembly. In addition to the effect that the implementation of the Webster method may have had in that election, it seems that the Legislative Power will be the main coordinating and articulating body with which the new government will have to deal in this new political stage in Ecuador.
Even so, the Ecuadorian parliament as a public institution has a lot of credibility to rebuild. The outgoing administration gained about 10% popular support for its administration. And while citizens’ expectations for the new legislature have improved considerably to an average of 38% confidence, the severity of the country’s health and financial crisis does not offer much room for social support.
This distrust is also due to the fact that more than half of the parliamentary representation of the last legislature (2017-2021) changed their party affiliation during their term. This phenomenon of transfuguism – colloquially known in Ecuador as “camisetazos” – not only distorts political representation, but also contributes to the widespread discredit that persists over the National Assembly as a whole. Despite the proven public repudiation of this practice, seven cases of transfuguism have already been registered in the current legislature.
The new parliamentary arch
In this context, at first glance, the new balance of forces highlights the organizational disaggregation of choreism. Alianza País, in addition to the split in the previous legislature, is currently out of seats. However, correísmo is present in the 49 deputies of the Unión por la Esperanza (UNES) party, which was electorally fed by the candidacy of Andrés Arauz. On the other hand, there was an increase in the representation of left-wing parties not aligned with Correism, such as the Democratic Left (18 seats) and the Pachakutik indigenist movement (27 seats).
This marked distance between leftist parties offers spaces for dialogue with the party that supports President Lasso (Movimiento Creando Oportunidades CREO), which obtained only 12% of parliamentary representation. Likewise, the growth in political representation of the Christian Social Party (PSC), the government’s main strategic ally, is also noteworthy.
Despite this balance of forces, in which the government is in the minority, after overcoming some difficulties, it was possible to reach an initial alliance, at least for the appointment of the main authorities of the National Assembly. A preview, perhaps, of the kind of relationship we will have between the executive and the legislature for at least the next two years. A pattern of governability that, although it does not appear to be hostile or blockaded, as occurs in political systems such as Peru, could lead to a tight vigilance by the Executive and a political containment of its initiatives. This would be an unfavorable environment for very radical changes, at least in the short or medium term.
2021 parliamentary environment
It is important to note that the analysis of legislative management should not be based only on the quantitative production of laws and the ratification of international treaties. It is also important to examine Parliament’s oversight capacity over the public administration as a whole. Hence the importance of its institutional operation, regardless of its balance of forces, which allows for the democratic governance of the country.
An important feature to highlight is the 2021-2024 parliamentary agenda, which for the first time since 2008 had not been drafted in accordance with the Organic Law on the Legislative Function. This is an important feature of institutional autonomy that contrasts with previous administrations.
However, in addition to this declaration of good intentions, during these first months we have seen tensions between the main benches, which are expressed in the proliferation of exhortations as well as objections to the laws passed by the outgoing administration. This has also been seen in the recurrent accusations of corruption, the rejection of President Lenín Moreno’s management report and the protests of important social sectors such as teachers.
Thus, the political chessboard resulting from the elections in Ecuador for 2021 is already unfolding, against the backdrop of the rigors still imposed by the pandemic and by an outgoing administration with questionable socioeconomic results.
In this sense, the main point of tension will certainly be the approval of the general budget of the State, as well as the main legislative initiatives sought by the new government, such as the Communication Law. Even so, the National Assembly has already passed four laws, three of which are aimed at economic reactivation. An interesting thematic blink of an eye considering that whoever occupies the Carondelet Palace arrived there promising a new fiscal management of the country to improve the battered Ecuadorian economy.
Spanish translation by Dâmaris Burity
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