Ecuador’s political background
In 2013, incumbent President Rafael Correa was re-elected. Since then, there has been much debate about whether or not to make future re-election of the President possible. However, it was only after the 2014 local elections that proposals for constitutional amendments were presented to make this possible.That same year, the constitutional court ruled that these amendments are to be reviewed and approved by Parliament.
One of the main challenges that political parties in Ecuador face is the lack of support from the public. Despite the votes, they are still one of the least trusted institutions in the country. But public opinion reports do show a notable improvement of confidence in the National Assembly. The approval rate has tripled from 21,8% in 2008, to 64,4% in 2014 according to recent studies of research agency Perfiles de Opinion. This figure is well above Latin America´s average approval rate of 32%, according to the Latinobarometer 2011. This positive development can largely be explained by the major reform of the constitutional process and the transition of Congress to the National Assembly (AN), which was realized in 2008.
During the local elections in February 2014, PAIS movement, which currently holds 74% of the National Assembly, suffered electoral setbacks in two major cities (Quito and Cuenca). Yet, based on the number of votes obtained nationwide, PAIS continues to be the main political force in the country on the local level, followed by AVANZA and SUMA.
On a political organization level, participation of youth and women still needs attention. Even though women’s representation in the National Assembly reached 39%, after the local elections of 2014 women’s representation in local governments is just 25.7%. Also, only 13.4% of the elected authorities were under 30 years of age.
The approach of NIMD in Ecuador
In Ecuador it is important that political parties build their organizational and programmatic capacity in order to be able to respond effectively to the interests of the citizens.
NIMD’s funds for the Ecuador programme will be strictly used as innovative and catalysing in terms of fundraising and type of activities. The programme will focus on improving the level playing field in politics by assisting in the institutionalization of the legislative unit of the National Assembly and the Legislative School. In 2015, Agora Democratica (AD) has therefore started the implementation of the project “Construction of mechanisms to promote citizen participation and strengthen legislative capacity in the National Assembly of Ecuador”, which consists of:
- compilation and systematization of procedures within the Assembly and to clarify them in a guide that seeks to strengthen technical capacities of the assemblymen;
- designing a tool that uses a prospective methodology to help identify, a priori, the effects of legal and political decisions;
- building a tool that provides recommendations on how to ‘translate’ laws into a more understandable language in order to foster an informed and involved citizenship.
In addition, AD will particularly focus on strengthening the strategic planning capacity of the political organisations. Since no elections are planned for 2015, political parties can work on their institutionalization. Finally, the programme will try to connect civil society more directly with political organisations, to fill the gap between these two sectors. Therefore, AD will continue working with strategic partners such as AMJUPRE and the GPDM to strengthen women’s political participation and representation.