Navigation Pages

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Goin' to the Polls

It's election time in Ecuador. After 10 years of stable government, Ecuador's constitution requires a change. Currently a president can only sit for two terms, much like the US and unlike Canada.

El Presidente Correa, both loved and maligned, is stepping down and the country's control is up for grabs. Voting is mandatory in Ecuador for citizens (with some exceptions) and fines can be levied and contracts can be scuttled if you don't do your civic duty. Extranjeros (foreigners) that reside in the country can choose to vote or not, assuming they've been in the country a sufficient amount of time and are registered to vote.

The campaign period is blessedly short, just over a month or so and the vote takes place on a Sunday, to make it easier for everyone to get out to the polls. The thing that surprised us the most is that the whole weekend is dry. We had planned to meet friends at the local craft brewery on Friday, but it was closed. (Now, being Ecuador there could be several reasons for this, but the REAL reason was that alcohol sales are banned over the election weekend.) Even restaurants are prohibited from selling booze...can you imagine?

The polls are only open for 10 hours (7 am to 5 pm), but it seemed a sufficient amount of time for the populace to get out and participate in democracy. At the polling stations the men and women are separated...there are voting booths for each sex and nary the twain shall meet, as the saying goes. The ballots are numerous. There is a sheet for the president, a sheet for the assembly members, regional representatives and provincial (parochial) representatives. There was also a special ballot specific to whether elected officials should be allowed to have offshore accounts.  The ballots include photos of the representatives, in case of illiteracy and are in full colour. It's pretty impressive.

Once you place your vote, you receive confirmation of having participated so you can avoid those nasty fines and problems that come with not adhering to the law. For fifty cents you can have the paper, that includes your photo and personal information laminated for posterity - for easy keeping in your wallet. 

Other than that, everything is pretty standard. You need ID to vote, then you sign the registry and then cast your ballots and place them in the ballot boxes. It will be interesting to see if the country goes with the status quo or chooses to go more conservative. We await the results with slightly baited breath. 

Guillermo Lasso Mendoza
Lenin Moreno Garcés
Four days later - after protests in the street for the delay to count EVERY ballot and accusations, from all sides, of voter fraud and shady dealings - and it looks like we're going to have a runoff vote, which means we go back to the polls. For a president to be elected, they must achieve 50% of the vote or 40% plus a 10% margin over the next most popular candidate. The incumbent party's candidate is sitting at 39.3% with the challenger at 28.1%. What does all that mean? That the burden of majority (as outlined by the law) has not been achieved and there will be a second round of voting between Moreno and Lasso on April 2nd. (Yup, Goin' to the Polls 2.0!) Who'da thunk?
The bizarre outcome (from my perspective) of this, is that the man that was trailing by more than 10% in the original vote could wind up winning the election, if the populace that voted for losing third parties switch their vote to Sr. Lasso, despite the fact that Sr. Moreno actually had the majority vote, as does his cabinet. (I guess that makes for a minority government, should Lasso win.) If Lasso does win, he's sworn to throw Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian consulate in London, England; Moreno has indicated that he's willing to continue providing Assange with asylum. I don't expect that this has much influence on the election, it's more of a pop culture tidbit.

Stayed tuned! 

No comments:

Post a Comment