Ecuadorans jammed the polls on September 28 to vote on a new, 444-article Constitution that had been drafted by an elected Constitutional Assembly and distributed to voters in July. In a referendum considered by international observers to be mainly free and fair, 64 percent voted to approve the new Constitution and 28 percent were opposed. With this wide margin of approval, the new Constitution will become Ecuador’s 20th in the 186 years since the country gained its independence.
The new Constitution is noteworthy for the expanded scope of its social guarantees, government responsibilities, and citizens’ rights. At the same time, it has been criticized for concentrating power in the executive and limiting the roles of the legislative and judicial branches. The heavy turnout for the “yes” on September 28 signaled not simply approval of the text of the new Constitution, but also strong backing for the political project of President Rafael Correa and his governing party, Alianza País. Under the new Constitution, new presidential and congressional elections will be held as soon as January 2009.