Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ecuador's Boring Election

I'm late to this, of course, because the election was on Sunday and the winner has been obvious for a long time. But after reading news reports of Rafael Correa's victory, I thought of one thing that doesn't get mentioned much--this was a boring election. After all, this is a country without much history of stable democratic rule, and Correa even faced a serious crisis in 2010. From the magic of Wikipedia, here are presidents in Ecuador for the last twenty years:

48Coat of arms of Ecuador.svgSixto Durán BallénAugust 10, 1992August 10, 1996President
49Abdalá Bucaram.jpgAbdalá BucaramAugust 10, 1996February 6, 1997President
-Coat of arms of Ecuador.svgRosalía ArteagaFebruary 6, 1997February 11, 1997Acting President
-Coat of arms of Ecuador.svgFabián AlarcónFebruary 11, 1997August 10, 1998Interim President
50JamilMahuad.jpgJamil MahuadAugust 10, 1998January 21, 2000President
51Coat of arms of Ecuador.svgGustavo NoboaJanuary 22, 2000January 15, 2003President
52Lucio Gutiérrez.jpgLucio GutiérrezJanuary 15, 2003April 20, 2005President
53Alfredo Palacio.jpgAlfredo PalacioApril 20, 2005January 14, 2007President
54Rafaelcorrea08122006.jpgRafael CorreaJanuary 15, 2007IncumbentPresident

That isn't pretty. It's Boz and Mike Allison have more skeptical views, and they're well taken, but look: this is a noteworthy state of affairs for a country that was in years of constant upheaval. Back in 2006 as the presidential election went to a second round, a Washington Post article ended with this:

Still, many Ecuadorans have had it with promises and politics. Vladimir Peña, 33, an accountant, said he would like wholesale change but sees most of the candidates as opportunistic populists. He invalidated his ballot. 
"We've had lots of populists here," he said. "And what happens is they last six months, and that's it."

A lot of people thought that was a distinct possibility, even probable. But over six years later, Correa won a boring election. I need to come up with a theory of boring elections.


Anonymous,  9:32 AM  

Dear Mr. Weeks, I am sorry to say that your article reflects a definite ignorance about one of the most interesting and succesful political phenomena in the world, i.e. the case of a democratic leader that carries on a non orthodox politic, confronting the established powers, and increasing his following even with the majority of the hegemonic media against him. A leader that has improved income distribution, national accounts, confronted pressures from the U.S., international financial institutions, and mantained governability in a multicultural, politicized country. He has tripled the amount of votes his opposition candidate got, a banker that represents the elites inEcuador, in a electoral campaign respectful de all freedoms. I wonder if your students can accept your leadership or have enough critical thinking as to understand how faible are your articles.

boz 9:38 AM  

I'll just add that I'll consider it particularly noteworthy if Correa can hand off power in a peaceful democratic transition in 2017. If he does, he'll be the first president in 20 years to do so. That would be a very positive sign for the country.

Greg Weeks 10:06 AM  

Anyonmous: you say you disagree, but then basically make the same argument, namely that much has happened yet there was a boring election.

Justin Delacour 9:29 PM  

A "theory of boring elections"? That sounds like a pretty boring post. Call me crazy, but I think political scientists ought to be in the business of explaining why some candidates win, why some candidates lose, and why some win or lose big.

Alfredo 9:17 AM  

Seems like the majority of the Ecuadorian electorate prefers a "boring" election, over those previous chaotic 20 years or so. LOL

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