A stumbling block threatens the institutionalism of Ecuador’s CNE


CNEEcuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) is experiencing a credibility crisis after its newly-appointed board was practically forced to quit thanks to the unexpected resignation of one of its counselors due to her having a political affiliation.

The CNE had a Board of Directors—presided by Paul Salazar—for eight days. Salazar set forth the need to undertake an all-encompassing reform of the Democracy Code. However, the newly-incorporated counselor Gloria Toapanta suddenly quit, seemingly as part of a political move regarding her partisanship, as she is a militant of the Alianza País party. This restrains her from keeping her post.

Although the desertion of an advisory post should not have altered the Board’s composition, both Salazar and vice president Mauricio Tayupanta resolved to put the rest of the posts at the disposal of the CNE members, until the vacancy left by Mrs. Toapanda was filled. The situation, far from being solved transparently, abiding by the norms, became a process that already has raised legal procedures against it, as new authorities were appointed at the same time as the post was being filled in a suspicious manner.

The reviews by the media shows that three people were considered apt to fill the vacancy: Solanda Goyes and Mónica Rodríguez, substitutes designated in last December’s contest carried out by the Citizen Participation Council, where Toapanda won. Besides, Ana Marcela Paredes, first substitute from the 2011 process, also requested her incorporation.

According to Article 20 of the Democracy Code (CD), at the resignation of one of the main advisors, his or her post will be filled by the subsitute with the highest score at the contest where he or she was elected. In this case, the contest that applies is the one carried out in 2014.

Solanda Goyes, who obtained 88 points in last year’s contest, claimed to be the first substitute. However, CNE counselors voted for Paredes, who was voted substitute in 2011 with 77.75 points. The affected candidate will file for protection and will take action against the appointment.

Thus, Paredes’s entry gave way to the appointment of Juan Pablo Pozo and Nubia Villacís, who were appointed president and vice president of the CNE, respectively. After the issue was seemingly settled, different people, among them Fausto Camacho, former CNE member, criticized several of the State’s institutions for joining together to contravene the law. Camacho annouced that he will also take legal action.

Although Pozo defended himself from the criticism arguing that CNE “is not an allocation council,” the entity is now facing an institutional crisis that is jeopardizing not only the body’s future, but also the country’s electoral guarantees, as Ecuador has been immersed in a process of suffrage modernization, in which the technology it will use to automate voting has been under evaluation.

CNE’s institutional frailty might become an obstacle not only for the country’s electoral development, but for the preservation of suffrage. It is now the turn of legal instances to activate the mechanisms that enable the solution of what clearly looks like a political stumbling block.

Ecuador’s CNE appoints authorities for the next 3 years


Ecuador

Paúl Salazar, newly elected president of the CNE, salutes his new vice president, Mauricio Tayupanta, after inauguration. Photo: El Tiempo

On January 8th, 2015, the new board of the National Council of Ecuador was elected. Paul Salazar and Mauricio Tayupanta were appointed president and vice president, respectively. Moreover, Juan Pablo Pozo and Nubia Villacís were re-elected as counselors.

Mr. Salazar assumed his new role in the institution proposing an internal review in order to implement reforms conducive to higher efficiency. To this end, he indicated that he considers it necessary to carry out a deep, all-encompassing reform in the operational and legal areas of the Democracy Code.

With the appointment of these new authorities, president Domingo Paredes’ term ended. He led the institution for only three years. One of Paredes’ merits was to achieve a significant international projection for the CNE. During his term, he promoted important agreements with electoral authorities from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Russia, which enabled successful e-voting pilots in the provinces of Azuay and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. On the other hand, Paredes’s impartiality was questioned by those opposing the government of President Correa. Besides, he was strongly criticized for the way he handled certain situations, such as the invalidation of signatures to register political parties, or the failed tallying of precinct counts provided by Scytl, a process whose purpose was to hasten the official results from the past sectional elections.

Regarding electoral automation, Paúl Salazar is ready to meet the scheduled timeline set by the previous administration, in which he served as vice president. In sight there is the goal of automating 5 important provinces by 2017: Azuay, Guayas, Manabí, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Pichincha. Furthermore, the goal of an automation system able to cover a 100% of the electorate by 2021 does not look too ambitious, in light of the significant lengths advanced in 2014. As a systems engineer, and given the leading role he had in the automation process held during the last elections, Mr. Salazar definitely is well endowed to set this project in motion.