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July 31, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

After defeat, Correa asks Cabinet to resign

Ecuador President Rafael Correa, right, accompanies Quito Mayor Augusto Barrera to cast his vote in Quito, on Sunday.

Ecuadorean leader acknowledges need to ‘energize’ gov’t after loss of Quito, Guayaquil

QUITO — The consequences of the electoral defeat suffered last Sunday by Ecuador’s ruling-party started to be felt yesterday after President Rafael Correa asked his Cabinet to resign.

Sunday’s polls, involving some 221 municipalities, saw centre-right candidates defeat Correa’s candidates in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca — the country’s largest cities.

It was the biggest electoral setback for Correa and his leftist government since he took office in 2007.

Re-elected last year to a final four-year term — the Constitution prevents him from staying on longer — Correa had argued that losing the capital to the opposition would threaten stability. After exit polls were released, he admitted that the outcome was “painful.”

On Tuesday, he told reporters in Guayaquil that he had already planned to restructure his government.

“Regardless of the election outcome, we had felt it necessary to energize the Cabinet,” Correa said.

The president made no official media announcement following yesterday's closed-door meeting in which he requested the resignations. But a local newspaper quoted Ecuador’s Secretary of Legal Affairs Alexis Mera as saying Correa had asked for the Cabinet’s resignation and that he had already submitted his.

Wake-up call

“This wake-up call may have been costly but I welcome it because we were starting to stall, not at the government level but at the level of political organization,” Correa said on Tuesday.

He lamented, especially, the loss of Quito. The capital, ruled by ruling-party Mayor Augusto Barrera, was taken by opposition candidate Mauricio Rodas.

“Quito is basic for governance,” Correa acknowledged.

Julio Echeverría, a professor at the Latin American University of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Quito, said he believes Correa “minimizes” the electoral results by focusing his attention on the capital.

“He doesn’t realize that the phenomenon is not limited to Quito but is reproduced all across the country and that ruling Alianza País has lost the most populated cities,” he said.

Echeverría underlined that “changes in Cabinet or adjustments to the movement’s structure” won’t be enough to stop losing supporters and that what’s needed “is a significant turn in the model’s direction.”

Despite the defeat, Alianza País remains the country’s main political force and, according to preliminary results, will win at least 60 municipalities and between six and ten governorships.

On Tuesday, Correa had said that “the problem is not the government but the structure” and that Barrera and outgoing Cuenca Mayor Paul Granda will continue to work within the ruling-party to consolidate the movement.

Herald with AP, Télam

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