Ecuador’s President Threatens to Dissolve Government if Socialists Lose Presidential Race

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa waves as he arrives for the taking office ceremony of Ar
REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Rafael Correa, the socialist President of Ecuador, is threatening to use an obscure federal rule to dissolve both the executive and the legislature should pro-freedom center-right candidate Guillermo Lasso win the nation’s presidency in an April run-off vote.

“The best way to keep me far away is to behave well,” the President of Ecuador warned. “If you behave badly, I will return and defeat you again.”

Correa issued his warning following the nation’s electoral commission, announcing that no candidate received over 40 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential election, forcing a run-off election between the top two candidates. Correa is supporting the socialist candidate Lenín Moreno, who won the first round with 39.3 percent of the vote. Lasso received 28.1 percent.

Should Lasso win, the elections would go similarly to those of Argentina’s in 2015 when current president Mauricio Macri, a center-right, pro-business candidate, forced the first run-off election in that nation’s history against Daniel Scioli, the hand-picked successor to leftist president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Fernández de Kirchner — a staunch supporter of Correa’s and an ally of rogue states such as Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba — is currently facing charges of corruption.

Whether Correa would also experience a similar investigation under a center-right presidency remains unclear. He appears unwilling to find out, however. Ecuador boasts an obscure procedural rule known as muerte cruzada (“cross-death”) which allows the president to dissolve both the legislature and the executive, thereby nullifying the results of national elections and forcing a new round of voting.

“If the opposition wins and they want to destroy everything we have gained, the cross-death law exists,” Correa told reporters on Thursday. “We have the majority in the Assembly and in a year we may see each other again.”

While the threat belies concern that Lasso may win the election, Correa insisted that he would be “easy to defeat” in a run-off vote, calling his policy proposals to attract trade to Ecuador and liberalize the market “unconstitutional.”

Reuters notes that among Lasso’s policy proposals are “slashing taxes, fostering foreign investment and creating a million jobs in four years” as well as evicting WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK, where Correa has allowed him to stay for nearly five years.

In addition to threatening to nullify the democratic vote, Correa took to Twitter to warn of a “dirty campaign” from the Ecuadorian right (“the same people”… “the loser right“) should they achieve a second round of voting. He also went on to claim that the Associated Press’s election count was fraudulent. “We would be the ones hurt [if there was fraud], and we probably were, because the AP annulled many votes,” he tweeted.

Correa’s Twitter account has gotten him in trouble before. In 2015, Correa replied to an accusation of fascism from a Twitter user with the phrase “¡Heil Hitler!” He did not clarify whether the statement was a joke.

He has also used the platform to question President Barack Obama’s blackness, a common theme among Latin American leftists. He has not afforded other Ecuadorian Twitter users the same latitude on the platform; a self-described “militant leftist” received a prison sentence in 2014 for decrying corruption in the Correa government.

On television, Correa once challenged a legislator to a fist fight over policy.

A victory in the run-off election for Lasso would end a decade of socialist rule. Correa, a longtime supporter of Cuban dictator Raúl Castro and his Venezuelan counterparts Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, assumed the presidency in 2007.


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