Ecuador starts talks on new constitution
Ecuador prepares for a new constitution to end the political instability of the last decade. In the presence of President Correa, NIMD invited ruling and opposition parties to discuss the constitution building process.
"Today we have a good chance to make a new constitution, and a more just society in Ecuador," President Correa of Ecuador said in his opening speech at the conference on 1 August 2007 in Quito.
Words of the new president, who is about to take on the greatest challenge of his first six months in office: the election of the members of the Constituent Assembly, which is responsible for drafting a new constitution for Ecuador.
With less than two months before this election, NIMD and International IDEA organised a conference for political parties and civil society to discuss the main issues involved with Constitution Building. Experts from Latin American countries and Africa were invited to share their experiences.
Serious test for Correa
The new constitution is an important step to a politically more stable country. Before Correa was elected this January, Ecuador has seen seven presidents come and go in the last decade. With such a record, Ecuador easily qualifies as Latin America’s most unstable democracy, with a dysfunctional and highly volatile political playing field.
In order to break with old habits, Correa wants to draft a new constitution and tries to push through political and social economic reforms on a large scale. His popularity is very high, but the elections of the Constituent Assembly and the drafting of a new constitution will be a serious test for the effectiveness of his leadership and his reform agenda.
Quality of democracy
At the conference, representatives ranging from political parties, civil society and constitutional reform experts endorsed the importance for all Latin American countries to develop strong democracies with social cohesion and effective participation of their citizens. During the last three decades most countries have organised free and fair elections. Now it is time for a new wave of democratization to deepen the quality of the democracies.
The new constitution is an important framework in Ecuador’s democratic system. Therefore, it is crucial that the document is drafted in a thorough and comprehensive manner. Extensive debate and political compromise have proven to be useful methods to assure this. With this conference, NIMD and International IDEA hope to contribute to a positive outcome of the new constitution.
Participants of the Constitutional Building Conference in Quito included the political parties of Ecuador, representatives from civil society and experts from Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Eritrea and South Africa. Also present were Mr. Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) and Mrs. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador.