Political Structures in Ecuador
By Sarah Lander
Ecuador, officially the ‘Republic of Ecuador’ has a political system which can be most accurately defined as a representative democracy. There are local and federal level governments who are voted in democratically. Ecuadorian’s are legally allowed to vote at the age of 18 and are expected to vote until the age of 64. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920, making it one of the first amongst its regional counterparts to recognize women’s role in democratic politics. Ecuador’s head of state is called a President, and their current head of state is President Lenin Moreno Garces. The current Vice President of Ecuador is María Alejandra Muñoz.
Ecuador gained its independence in 1822 but has since had a long and rocky road to becoming a consistently democratic nation. Since 1979 with the implementation of the constitution, the country has seen democratic stability in terms of frequent and fair elections. The government is structured between municipal (referred to in Ecuador as ‘cantons’), provincial and federal levels of governance.
At the local level, are electoral districts called cantons. There are 221 of them in the country, and cantons are democratic electoral districts where a leader is locally elected by the people residing within that canton. The next level of government is provincial, however the person in charge of provincial government (governor) is not democratically elected by the people living in the provinces. This person, referred to as a governor, is rather appointed by the President at the federal level. Although they are not directly democratically elected by the people, they typically represent the President’s party values. The leaders of the cantons within each of the 24 provinces hold a significant amount of pull in decision making for local communities.
At the federal level, the President is elected democratically for a four-year term. On the federal ballot, when casting your vote, you are to select your choice for both the President and the Vice President. The Vice President’s role is more supplementary and supportive than active, and the Vice President would only actively step in to govern in extreme circumstances. Although there are elections every four years, the President may only serve one term and not run in the election following their term in office. The President and their executive reside and govern from Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. To become the President of Ecuador, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled by the individual such as being at least 35 years in age, an Ecuadorian citizen, etc. For the President to be voted in, votes are cast anonymously by secret ballot. In order to gain Presidency and Vice Presidency, the respective candidates must gain the ‘absolute majority’ of the vote, which can be defined as anything more than half of the votes.
“Ecuador Government Structure” Country Studies. US Library of Congress. http://countrystudies.us/ecuador/58.htm
“Ecuador: Local Government” Britannica Places. https://www.britannica.com/place/Ecuador
“Ecuador: Government” Global Edge Country Profiles. https://globaledge.msu.edu/countries/ecuador/government
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This page is happy to have many authors! From some of the Two Rivers' staff to our lovely volunteer interns. WE hope we can see Ecuador in as many perspectives as there are trees in the Amazon.