Ecuador. In the February 17 presidential election, President Rafael Correa won a convincing victory with 57% of the votes cast against 23% for his closest competitor Guillermo Lasso, candidate for CREO (Create Opportunities). The victory was expected after the last opinion polls, but not that it would have such a wide margin. Correa can thus, if he fulfills his mandate for 2017, become Ecuador’s longest-serving head of state. He also became the first president since the return to democracy in 1979 to enjoy a majority in Congress, where his coalition Alliance País (AP) now received 100 of the 137 seats.
The major political dispute issue during the year was related to oil exploration in the Amazon area, especially in the Yasuní National Park. In early October, Congress decided to support President Correa’s proposal to begin oil drilling in Yasuní within the next two years. According to Countryaah, the government was accused by environmental and Indian groups of selling Ecuador’s natural resources to China, regardless of the environment and local residents, to where two-thirds of the country’s oil exports go. Correa, for its part, emphasized the importance of oil extraction in order to implement the government’s social policy program and that only 0.1% of Yasuní National Park will be affected by the oil exploration.
At the same time, the opposition prepared a name-gathering to get a referendum on the Yasuní issue. Significantly, former President Lucio Gutiérrez (2003–05), who admittedly only finished in third place in the presidential election, still won the majority of the votes in the province of Napo in the Amazon.
The crisis package the government implemented complicated the situation for Bucaram. The unions convened for a general strike on February 5, 1997, and the president declared that the government supported the move as it deemed lawful. This unexpected political move on the part of the president did not stop his popularity from falling – among other things. due to the announced large price increases: 1000% increase in telephone prices, 300% in electricity prices, 245% on household gas and 60% on urban transport.
With a hitherto unused wording in the constitution, a minority in parliament declared the president “insane” and refused to recognize his authority. After three days of uncertainty over the country’s having three presidents, Fabián Alarcón received enough support from parliament and the armed forces to take over the country’s top post. However, he did not get the backing of the ruling party.
In a referendum at the end of May 97, 65% of the population reaffirmed his legitimacy as president, while 28% rejected it. At the same time, it was decided to convene a nationally elected National Assembly to change the country’s constitution. The Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant on Bucaram, now in exile in Panama. He was accused of corruption and was sentenced to 2 years in December.
On November 29, elections for a constitutional assembly were held, and it began work on the drafting of a new constitution. The Socialist Christian Opposition Party got the most seats with a program of decentralization, the fight against corruption and the need for drastic economic reforms. Members of the indigenous peoples’ organizations demanded that the multicultural and multi-ethnic character of the country be written into the new constitution.
By far, the Harvard-educated economist Jamil Mahuad was elected president in August 1998. He was the candidate of the People’s Democracy (DP). In October, in Brazil, he signed an agreement with Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori, ending the protracted border dispute between the two countries.
At its deployment, Mahuad had the support of 63% of the population and in October took a number of economic steps to reduce inflation (which was 14%) and the budget deficit. However, the economic policy of reducing public spending and streamlining tax collection faced massive rejection by the population. Workers ‘and indigenous peoples’ protests in various parts of the country intensified as the economic crisis worsened.