Ecuador is a republic where the president has
great power. A new constitution was adopted in 2008,
after the Left President Rafael Correa promised an end
to the unequal distribution of the country's resources
and to the political instability that characterized the
country. It became more stable over a period, but new
political concerns have arisen under Correa's successor
The president is both head of state and government
and is elected in direct elections for a four-year term.
The constitution adopted in 2008 meant that the
president could be elected for two consecutive terms,
unlike before. In 2015, an amendment was adopted which
meant that all restrictions on re-election would
disappear from 2021. But since Lenín Moreno took office
in 2017, a new referendum was held and voters then gave
their support to return to the rule on only one
re-election (see Current policy).
Total population and chart of Ecuador for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
If no candidate in the first round of the
presidential election receives more than 50 percent of
the vote - or 40 percent and 10 percentage points more
than two - a second round will be held between the two
The President has the right to veto laws passed by
Parliament, the right to break the deadlock in
Parliament by calling for a referendum, the right to
dissolve Parliament and the possibility of introducing a
state of emergency. The president appoints and dismisses
ministers, diplomats, governors and officials. The
President is also responsible for foreign policy and is
the commander in chief.
There is also a Vice President who may step in if the
President dies or is dismissed during the term of
The government is appointed by the president and was
given extended powers in the 2008 constitution. It has
the right to dissolve Parliament during the first three
years of its four-year term. This is counteracted by
Parliament's possibility of dismissing the President
(see below). Both of these measures must be followed
immediately by new elections.
Parliament (the National Assembly,
called the Congress until 2008) has a chamber. The
number of members varies depending on the population in
the provinces (after the parliamentary elections in 2017
they are 137). Elections to the National Assembly are
held every four years, at the same time as the
presidential election. Its political composition often
varies during the term of office, as it is common for
politicians to change parties or form new alliances.
Parliament can decide by two-thirds majority to dismiss
the president through national law. The turnout is
usually low, despite the fact that there is a formal
voting obligation for all citizens over the age of 18.
In addition to the legislative, executive and
judicial courts) there is an electoral authority and a
citizens' council. The latter has been
added to give citizens greater influence, but many
believe that the Council is politicized.
Administratively, Ecuador is divided into 24
provinces. Each of these is governed by a governor,
appointed by the president.
Ecuador's politics are characterized by regional
special interests and the political parties by gathering
around a particular person rather than a particular
ideology. Few parties have support both on the coast and
in the mountains, reflecting an old rivalry between the
landowner class around the capital Quito and the more
liberally oriented businessmen in and around the port
city of Guayaquil. There is a lot of party fragmentation
and the president is often forced to try to get a
majority for his proposals by building fragile party
alliances. This has made the domestic political
situation unstable with frequent shifts of power.
Between 1997 and 2005, three presidents were forced
out of office before the end of the term of office.
Correa won the presidential election in the fall of
2006, and as the first president in three decades, he
was re-elected for a second term in April 2009. Correa
won by an even greater margin in 2013 (see Modern
History). At that time, he could put up with the
motivation that he was elected only once since the new
constitution came into force.
Prior to the 2006 presidential election, Rafael
Correa founded a Left Alliance, the País
Alliance (Alianza País, AP ;
"país" means "country" in Spanish and is here an
abbreviation for Patria Altiva in Soberana, Proud and
Sovereign Motherland). The alliance brought together a
diverse group of farmers, workers, residents,
intellectuals and trade union leaders, among others.
Correa remained the party's foreground figure, but its
candidate in the 2017 presidential election was former
Vice President Lenín Moreno. He won the election, albeit
by barely imaginable margin. Correa and Moreno ended up
in the air after the election, which resulted in Correa
and a third of the party's MPs breaking out of the party
in early 2018 (see Current Policy).
Correa's followers then formed the Citizens
Revolution Movement (Movimiento
Revolución Ciudadana, MRC), which,
prior to the local elections in March 2019, joined a
voting list called Strength for Social
Engagement (Fuerza Compromiso Social,
The Democratic Left (Izquierda
Democrática, ID) is a social democratic
party that previously belonged to the larger but lost
influence when Correa was elected and the new
constitution was adopted. The party was closed down in
2013 but resurfaced in 2016. In 2012, a group of former
ID members formed a new party, Forward
(Partido Avanza), which is also Social Democratic.
Also on the left is the Movement for
Multinational Pachakutik (Movimiento Unidad
Plurinacional Pachakutik, or just Pachakutik,
see also below) representing indigenous people. The
party opposes privatization of state property and the
use of the US dollar as currency in the country.
Pachakutik and the Marxist-Leninist People's
Democratic Movement (Movimiento Popular
Democrático, MPD) broke with the País
Alliance in 2009 and later formed the
Multinational Left Unit (Unidad Plurinacional
de las Izquierdas, UPI) with other
leftist groups. However, MPD was dissolved in 2014.
At the beginning of 2012, a party was formed called
Creating Opportunities (Creando
Oportunidades, Creo) and said to
advocate economic and political liberalism. Creo's
presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso became the most
serious challenger for Correa in the 2013 presidential
election, and he was the main candidate in the very even
On the right is the Christian Social Party
(Partido Social Cristiano, PSC) which
advocates market economy and low taxes. There is also
the Madera de Guerrero Citizens' Movement
(Movimiento Civico Madera de Guerrero, MG),
which was formed in 2009 by the Mayor of Guayaquil,
Jaime Nebot. The two parties cooperate in election
context under the designation PSC-MG.
Two right-wing populist parties were dissolved in
2014. The Institutional Renewal Party (Partido
Renovador Institucional Acción Nacional, Prian)
was founded in 2002 by wealthy businessman Álvaro Noboa
to support his attempt to become president. The
Roldosist Party (Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano)
was founded in memory of former President Jaime Roldós,
who was killed in a plane crash in 1981. It was then
closely linked to another former president, Abdalá
Bucaram, who was run in the country in 1997 but still
ruled the party.
The Patriotic Socialist Party
(Partido Sociedad Patriótica, PSP) was
founded by Gutiérrez ahead of the 2002 presidential
election. It is a right-wing populist party, dominated
by militants and relatives of Gutiérrez.
For a long time Ecuador was ruled without the large
indigenous population being allowed to participate;
Aborigine got the right to vote only in 1978. The first
indigenous organization was formed in the 1940s, but the
Confederacy of original nationalities of Ecuador
(Confederación de Nacionalidades Indigenas del Ecuador,
CONAIE), founded in 1986, was the first
who had some influence. Conaie works for social change
and for the rights of indigenous peoples, often through
direct actions such as blockades and demonstrations. In
1996 the party Pachakutik was formed (see above) and
representatives of the indigenous peoples entered the
congress for the first time. Conaie and Pachakutik have
a lot in common but are not formally linked to each
Other influential groups in society
The military is formally outside of politics, but is
still a factor of power in the background, especially in
times of political unrest. Ecuador's military
accommodates both radical and conservative orientations
and has a certain reputation among the people for past
social contributions for the poor.
The church and the landlords, who used to play
central roles in politics, today have less influence
(which, however, does not mean that they lack power).