Referendum losses undermine Lasso’s administration in Ecuador

A poster in Quito calls for a rejection of the referendum on government reforms and mayoral contests. Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images

Ecuador’s center-right President Guillermo Lasso has suffered a major loss in a constitutional referendum and mayoral contests, resulting in calls from the leftist opposition for an early election. Candidates loyal to the leftist former president Rafael Correa have won major cities and prefectures, including Guayaquil, which was once a conservative stronghold. 

The constitutional referendum was aimed at rebuilding Lasso’s political capital and pushing stalled reforms such as granting the attorney-general the power to appoint prosecutors and reducing the size of the legislature. All eight measures failed.

Despite fulfilling Covid-19 vaccination targets and successfully restructuring debt with China, the former banker has faced a hostile congress while struggling to contain a rise in drug-related violence in the country’s prisons and cities. A Citibank note argued that the referendum defeat will lead to a further deterioration in Lasso’s ability to govern.

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