President Rafael Correa, the 48-year-old leader who has ruled Ecuador since 2007, may have received more power on Saturday May 7 after Ecuadorians voted on the referendum he called back in January 2011.
The referendum includes a major judiciary reform that will grant the president more control over the system, and the creation of a monitoring body for the press which will allow the government to limit freedom of speech.
Although most voters do not fully understand the complex referendum, in which each of the 10 questions were being voted on separately, exit polls have already predicted a victory for Presidet Correa's ‘yes’.
On Monday, May 9, BBC News reported that “with final results not expected for a few days, the margin of the Yes victory appears to be much slimmer than expected.”
In Shyris Avenue, the Quito headquarters of Correa's movement, supporters were ready to celebrate as soon as polls closed at 5 pm (Ecuador time). Preliminary results show that between 61 to 64 percent of Ecuadorians approved the amendments to their Constitution [es] on a national level.
Ecuadorians didn’t report major incidents during the voting process at home and abroad. Maybe the most anecdotal is the security feature in the new document voters received as proof they concurred to the polls. Blogger and journalist Nini (@nini022) noticed something was missing on her certificate:
Lo comparo con el anterior (jun/09) y este no tiene sello se seguridad. Ni siquiera tiene el escudo bien impreso. #consultaEC
Young Twitter user Luis Gabriel from Guayaquil (@luchogabucho) believes in the social and political changes taking place in Ecuador. He, at least, has verified one thing:
Otra de las cosas por las que sé que este país ha cambiado es que ahora mi recinto electoral está a menos de 1 km de mi casa #consultaec
Manuel Ignacio Gomez (@manueligomez), tweeting from Guayaquil, thinks Correa’s celebration is due to the differences between the opposition and the government at the moment of promoting or opposing the referendum:
“Democracia” plebiscitaria como excusa para comprar popularidad, eternizar al candidato, y evitar la responsabilidad de gobernar…
The exit poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent, was based on the national electorate equivalent to 23,880 voters out of the 11.1 million who voted on Saturday, May 7. Before the election, polls showed that Correa's “citizen revolution” would get most of the votes in the referendum. Ángel Polibio Córdoba, head of Cedatos, the main pollster in Ecuador, said that only two provinces rejected the referendum: Tungurahua and Sucumbíos vetoed Correa’s initiative.
Paola Pullas (@paolapullas), a founder of the Ecuador Oracle Users Group, explains why people were misinformed and the possible reason why the opposition didn't succeed.
@tonnets lastimosamente en Ecuador los periodistas o son correistas o son contrarios a él so la gente no puede informarse
But even when the exit polls give favorable results to the ‘yes’ on the referendum, the opposition is divided. Among them, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the leftists political party MPD (Democratic People's Movement) campaigned for the ‘no’. “This time the answer is no Mr. President”, was the slogan they used in their campaign.
The presidential project was not well received by some of the old ideologues of the “citizen's revolution” either. Alberto Acosta, former energy minister and former president of the national assembly, and Gustavo Larrea, also a former prime minister, campaigned against the referendum with other former allies.
Furthermore, some Ecuadorians think the 30 million dollars spent on this electoral event could have been invested on something else. Twitter user Ariana Rivadeneira (@aricris), went to the polls on May 7 and argues that if the government spent that money wisely people would understand the referendum questions better:
VOTANDO POR OBLIGACIÓN ! Y si mejor el dinero gastado en la #consultaec 2011 la invertirán en educación? Así la gente entiende las preguntas
This view is corroborated by another Twitter user and journalist, Kristel Freire (@kriele):
Yo creo que la consulta es una gastadera de dinero por simples caprichos presidenciales #consultaec
The day after voting on the referendum, on Sunday night, reports of the ‘no’ gaining more votes than the exit poll first reported started circulating online. Yadira Ribas (@yadira_ribas) reacted with this tweet:
Another Referendum supporter, David Villavicencio (@widaviye), keeps his hopes up: