Feb 2, 2023 - World

Ecuador to vote on constitutional reforms

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso late last year. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso late last year. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Ecuadorians on Sunday will vote on several measures aimed at reforming the nation's constitution, including reducing the size of its legislative body.

Details: President Guillermo Lasso, a center-right leader, called for the referendum late last year, saying it would create better legislative representation and help battle a crime wave and environmental problems.

  • The referendum has eight questions, including one about a proposal that would allow other countries to extradite Ecuadorians accused of organized crime.
  • Another asks if the country should reduce the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly from between 130-150, depending on population size in some provinces, to around 100.
  • The referendum — which polls show has a slight majority support — also includes a proposal to create a new water protection system.

Between the lines: Lasso has clashed with the Assembly and has a general approval rating of about 30%, according to polls.

  • Last summer, as Indigenous groups were staging mass strikes asking for better protections against mining in their lands, the Assembly held an unsuccessful vote to remove Lasso from power.
  • Experts say Lasso is using the referendum for a political win and to boost support for his 2025 re-election campaign.

What to watch: Voting is mandatory in Ecuador, and results are expected as soon as Monday afternoon. Voters can pick answers for each question separately.

  • Lasso also pushed for a question about whether to allow the armed forces to support local police in some regions, but the constitutional court ruled in November that the Assembly must vote on it first.
  • Lasso argues the proposal would help stem growing crime.
  • The UN said last week after a visit to the country that the use of armed forces should be exceptional only.

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