Short for EC by Abbreviationfinder, Ecuador is a republic where the president has great power. A new constitution was adopted in 2008, after the Left President Rafael Correa promised an end to the unequal distribution of the country’s resources and to the political instability that characterized the country. It became more stable over a period, but new political concerns have arisen under Correa’s successor Lenín Moreno.
The president is both head of state and government and is elected in direct elections for a four-year term. The constitution adopted in 2008 meant that the president could be elected for two consecutive terms, unlike before. In 2015, an amendment was adopted which meant that all restrictions on re-election would disappear from 2021. But since Lenín Moreno took office in 2017, a new referendum was held and voters then gave their support to return to the rule on only one re-election (see Current policy).
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Ecuador for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
If no candidate in the first round of the presidential election receives more than 50 percent of the vote – or 40 percent and 10 percentage points more than two – a second round will be held between the two leading candidates.
The President has the right to veto laws passed by Parliament, the right to break the deadlock in Parliament by calling for a referendum, the right to dissolve Parliament and the possibility of introducing a state of emergency. The president appoints and dismisses ministers, diplomats, governors and officials. The President is also responsible for foreign policy and is the commander in chief.
There is also a Vice President who may step in if the President dies or is dismissed during the term of office.
The government is appointed by the president and was given extended powers in the 2008 constitution. It has the right to dissolve Parliament during the first three years of its four-year term. This is counteracted by Parliament’s possibility of dismissing the President (see below). Both of these measures must be followed immediately by new elections.
Parliament (the National Assembly, called the Congress until 2008) has a chamber. The number of members varies depending on the population in the provinces (after the parliamentary elections in 2017 they are 137). Elections to the National Assembly are held every four years, at the same time as the presidential election. Its political composition often varies during the term of office, as it is common for politicians to change parties or form new alliances. Parliament can decide by two-thirds majority to dismiss the president through national law. The turnout is usually low, despite the fact that there is a formal voting obligation for all citizens over the age of 18.
In addition to the legislative, executive and judicial courts) there is an electoral authority and a citizens’ council. The latter has been added to give citizens greater influence, but many believe that the Council is politicized.
Administratively, Ecuador is divided into 24 provinces. Each of these is governed by a governor, appointed by the president.
Ecuador’s politics are characterized by regional special interests and the political parties by gathering around a particular person rather than a particular ideology. Few parties have support both on the coast and in the mountains, reflecting an old rivalry between the landowner class around the capital Quito and the more liberally oriented businessmen in and around the port city of Guayaquil. There is a lot of party fragmentation and the president is often forced to try to get a majority for his proposals by building fragile party alliances. This has made the domestic political situation unstable with frequent shifts of power.
Between 1997 and 2005, three presidents were forced out of office before the end of the term of office. Correa won the presidential election in the fall of 2006, and as the first president in three decades, he was re-elected for a second term in April 2009. Correa won by an even greater margin in 2013 (see Modern History). At that time, he could put up with the motivation that he was elected only once since the new constitution came into force.
Prior to the 2006 presidential election, Rafael Correa founded a Left Alliance, the País Alliance (Alianza País, AP ; “país” means “country” in Spanish and is here an abbreviation for Patria Altiva in Soberana, Proud and Sovereign Motherland). The alliance brought together a diverse group of farmers, workers, residents, intellectuals and trade union leaders, among others. Correa remained the party’s foreground figure, but its candidate in the 2017 presidential election was former Vice President Lenín Moreno. He won the election, albeit by barely imaginable margin. Correa and Moreno ended up in the air after the election, which resulted in Correa and a third of the party’s MPs breaking out of the party in early 2018 (see Current Policy).
Correa’s followers then formed the Citizens Revolution Movement (Movimiento Revolución Ciudadana, MRC), which, prior to the local elections in March 2019, joined a voting list called Strength for Social Engagement (Fuerza Compromiso Social, FCS).
The Democratic Left (Izquierda Democrática, ID) is a social democratic party that previously belonged to the larger but lost influence when Correa was elected and the new constitution was adopted. The party was closed down in 2013 but resurfaced in 2016. In 2012, a group of former ID members formed a new party, Forward (Partido Avanza), which is also Social Democratic.
Also on the left is the Movement for Multinational Pachakutik (Movimiento Unidad Plurinacional Pachakutik, or just Pachakutik, see also below) representing indigenous people. The party opposes privatization of state property and the use of the US dollar as currency in the country.
Pachakutik and the Marxist-Leninist People’s Democratic Movement (Movimiento Popular Democrático, MPD) broke with the País Alliance in 2009 and later formed the Multinational Left Unit (Unidad Plurinacional de las Izquierdas, UPI) with other leftist groups. However, MPD was dissolved in 2014.
At the beginning of 2012, a party was formed called Creating Opportunities (Creando Oportunidades, Creo) and said to advocate economic and political liberalism. Creo’s presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso became the most serious challenger for Correa in the 2013 presidential election, and he was the main candidate in the very even 2017 election.
On the right is the Christian Social Party (Partido Social Cristiano, PSC) which advocates market economy and low taxes. There is also the Madera de Guerrero Citizens’ Movement (Movimiento Civico Madera de Guerrero, MG), which was formed in 2009 by the Mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot. The two parties cooperate in election context under the designation PSC-MG.
Two right-wing populist parties were dissolved in 2014. The Institutional Renewal Party (Partido Renovador Institucional Acción Nacional, Prian) was founded in 2002 by wealthy businessman Álvaro Noboa to support his attempt to become president. The Roldosist Party (Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano) was founded in memory of former President Jaime Roldós, who was killed in a plane crash in 1981. It was then closely linked to another former president, Abdalá Bucaram, who was run in the country in 1997 but still ruled the party.
The Patriotic Socialist Party (Partido Sociedad Patriótica, PSP) was founded by Gutiérrez ahead of the 2002 presidential election. It is a right-wing populist party, dominated by militants and relatives of Gutiérrez.
For a long time Ecuador was ruled without the large indigenous population being allowed to participate; Aborigine got the right to vote only in 1978. The first indigenous organization was formed in the 1940s, but the Confederacy of original nationalities of Ecuador (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indigenas del Ecuador, CONAIE), founded in 1986, was the first who had some influence. Conaie works for social change and for the rights of indigenous peoples, often through direct actions such as blockades and demonstrations. In 1996 the party Pachakutik was formed (see above) and representatives of the indigenous peoples entered the congress for the first time. Conaie and Pachakutik have a lot in common but are not formally linked to each other.
Other influential groups in society
The military is formally outside of politics, but is still a factor of power in the background, especially in times of political unrest. Ecuador’s military accommodates both radical and conservative orientations and has a certain reputation among the people for past social contributions for the poor.
The church and the landlords, who used to play central roles in politics, today have less influence (which, however, does not mean that they lack power).