The referendum during prohibition

I met a German friend at 10.45 am on Friday.

“Hurry up! Go buy beer!”, he told me authentically scared. I was surprised. He explained that since noon the alcohol wouldn’t be sold – till Monday. Everything because of so called Ley seca, dry law, a temporary prohibition during 36 hours period before the day of elections or referendum to twelve hours after. It doesn’t forbid only selling but even consuming. The next referendum is going to take place on 4th of February. Of course, as one would expect, the sell of alcohol is the highest the day before prohibition.


When in may 2017 Lenin Moreno became president, people expected him to continue the leftist policy of his predecessor and party colleague Reafael Correa. It wasn’t the case, though. Moreno is considered a reformer – he cancels also many controversial and antidemocratic decisions of the former president. He promised to deal with the corruption.



Phot. Agencia de Noticias ANDES – CAMPAÑA 2DA VUELTA / LENIN MORENO CC BY-SA 2.0


About that is the first of seven questions of Sunday referendum. It envisages the confiscation of goods and proscription from political life for persons condemned for corruption. The next questions is about limiting the re-election to only one time – current constitution, so called Montecristi’s constitution doesn’t impose any limitation.

The fourth question is interesting but rather simple – it suppress the proscription of sexual crimes against children.


The fifth question of the referendum as well as the questions of so called consulta popular concerns the exploitation  of protected areas – metallic resources, non-metallic and the surface of those areas.

I was sitting at the table with my Ecuadorian friends who came from US to Ecuador over forty years ago. They are involved in the nature conservation, they run a foundation contributing to this purpose. We were talking about the referendum, reading the annexes and current law. All of them decided they needed to read it again at calm and analyse it thoroughly.

It calls into question the use of putting those topics into the referendum – most of the voters won’t sacrifice their time and effort to analyse them and many just won’t be able to do so – the level of education in Ecuador is relatively low. Additionally, the referendum is compulsory for all citizens aged 18 to 65.


“Vote all YES”, “Loja [a province in the South] votes YES”, “Vote with the heart. Vote all YES”

The level of complexity of some questions along with massive participation and active political campaign makes the referendum rather a form of the political support for on or another option than real rational decision. Rafael Correa, the former president, finished his campaign against the referendum. It will mean his political death.

According to the polls, all seven questions are supported at about 70%. It would be a victory for current president, Lenin Moreno. From the international perspective, the results are not ery significant, although some ecological issues can affect Chinese expansion in Ecuador – however, not too much.

Surprisingly, the people’s involvement is very visible. They hang flags and posters on their fences and balconies, or cars. Next to them appear often two painted letters: NO.


Not everyone is going to vote YES


The referendum is already on Sunday. The people waits sober. The most affected will be clubs owners. Fortunately, the next weekend the carnival begins so maybe a week of a break from non-stoping fiesta will do some good.

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