On February 4, Ecuadorians took to the polls to vote on a referendum that proposed to limit public officials to two terms limits. The proposal was a not-so-subtle effort to ban former President Rafael Correa from ever running for office again.
Preliminary results from Sunday’s referendum show that with 98% of votes counted, 64% of voters approved the ban on re-election. The results mark a win for President Lenin Moreno, who had championed the referendum, despite the strong opposition rallied by his predecessor. Moreno served as Correa’s vice president for six years and was largely expected to hold the fort for Correa until the 2021 elections, so the proposed referendum and the results came as a surprise.
The results also bolster an opportunity for the United States to reconstruct its relationship with Latin America’s left and reinforce Moreno’s credibility as a growing leader who seeks to balance his predecessor’s swing toward leftist politics. Still, the region faces populist presidential candidates elsewhere, with players like Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador topping preliminary polls in Mexico and right-wing populist Jaír Balsonaro among the leaders in early polls for the presidential elections in Brazil.