Ecuador’s president dissolves parliament amid impeachment

Briefly: Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the opposition-led parliament yesterday (Wednesday), hours after the start of his impeachment trial over alleged embezzlement. He announced the move via a tweet, followed by a video of the country’s security chiefs affirming the move’s constitutionality.

Trouble has been brewing for a while. Over recent years, Ecuador has seen:

  • 📉 a steady economic decline
  • 📈 increased gang-related violence and,
  • 👮 allegations of corruption at the highest levels.

The right-leaning Lasso came to power in a surprise 2021 election win but soon faced opposition from a left-leaning legislature, which moved to impeach him earlier this year. That process looked set to remove Lasso from office within days, even though it stemmed from a contract signed under the previous government.

So after months of deadlock, Lasso used Ecuador’s muerte cruzada (mutual death) clause to dissolve the legislature and trigger early elections. He’s said he’ll run for re-election and, in the meantime, is ruling by decree (overseen by Ecuador’s top court).

Intrigue’s take: In a heated environment, folks can reach very different conclusions from the same set of facts. And that’s what’s happening in Ecuador:

  • ✊ OpponentsLasso is a right-wing figure who’s undermining democracy to avoid corruption charges and cling to power, ruling by decree and using the army for political purposes.
  • 👍 SupportersThe left-wing legislature has ground the country to a halt, so the president has used the constitution to bring elections forward and let the people decide.

So… which one is true? A lot depends on what Lasso does next: will he usher in swift elections and a smooth transition of power? Or will he use his new decree powers to push through controversial changes? Or maybe a mix of the two.

Also worth noting:

  • Lasso’s approval rating was 13% in March. The legislature’s approval rating was around half that.
  • A key indigenous organisation in Ecuador, which led major protests last year, has described the situation as a “dictatorship scenario.”
  • Lasso’s first act with his new decree powers was to sign into law a bill that boosts tax deductions for families and tweaks them for small firms.