QUITO – The election campaign for the popular referendum to be held in Ecuador on Feb. 4 began on Wednesday with 40 registered citizens’ organizations, most of them favoring the “yes” vote for the seven questions to be asked of the public by the government of Lenin Moreno.
Just four social organizations, of the 40 approved by the National Electoral Council (CNE), will campaign for the “no” option to certain questions on the referendum dealing with issues such as corruption, re-election, capital gains, citizenship, mining and sexual crimes against minors.
The CNE reiterated on Wednesday that the election campaign will last until midnight on Feb. 1, when a moratorium on proselytizing will be instituted to give the citizenry time to reflect on how they intend to vote.
Hundreds of government sympathizers launched their “yes” campaign at the door to the Carondelet presidential palace, where they chanted slogans for their point of view on the seven questions.
The demonstrators, many of them members of the “Democracy Yes” collective and the Democratic Left party, gathered on Independence Square in front of the government palace calling for “Yes to everything.”
A spokesman for the collective said that similar gatherings will be held simultaneously in several cities around the country, adding that the campaign “will grow” over the course of the coming days.
In the port city of Guayaquil, thousands more people congregated downtown to support the “yes” option, in particular supporters of the prefect of the province of Guayas, Jimmy Jairala, and the CUT union, both of whom are allied with the Moreno government.
“No” campaign supporters, meanwhile, and sympathizers of former President Rafael Correa gathered at the headquarters of the Alianza Pais movement in northern Quito, where they once again called the referendum pushed by the Moreno administration dishonest and misleading.
Correa and Moreno, former colleagues, have become arch rivals and are disputing the direction of the movement, and Correa’s former foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, said that the ex-president intends to return to Ecuador from his current home in Belgium on Thursday evening with some sympathizers saying that he will speak in Guayaquil on Friday.
The government is prohibited from engaging in electoral promotion or advertisement on the referendum, according to the CNE, to guarantee fair and evenhanded public debate on the seven questions.