The Pushback Against Populism: Why Ecuador’s Referendums Backfired

Issue Date April 2020
Volume 31
Issue 2
Page Numbers 69-80
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Since taking office in May 2017, Ecuadorean president Lenín Moreno has made headline-grabbing efforts to reverse the transformations wrought by his populist predecessor, Rafael Correa (2007–17). Initially elected as Correa’s handpicked successor and the candidate of his Alianza PAIS movement, Moreno departed from the course set by Correa on matters ranging from the abolition of term limits to the launch of anticorruption investigations. Yet illiberal populism’s architect in Ecuador and his antipopulist successor have turned out to share one key political habit: a reliance on referendums. The case of Ecuador suggests that referendums may be liable to backfire when used in the service of restoring democracy.

About the Authors

Felipe Burbano de Lara

Felipe Burbano de Lara is research professor in political science at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Ecuador.

View all work by Felipe Burbano de Lara

Carlos de la Torre

Carlos de la Torre is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. He is editor, most recently, of the Routledge Handbook of Global Populism (2019).

View all work by Carlos de la Torre