Ecuador´s new Constitution, approved in 2008, is regarded as revolutionary in many aspects that include not only the recognition of legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights but also a strong emphasis on participation and inclusion. Following the example of other Andean Countries, the Ecuadorean Constitution is innovative in regarding the institutionalization of specific mechanisms aimed at fostering political participation, equality, social justice, and multiculturalism.
Since the approval of this new Constitution, Ecuador has created many important democratic innovations. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian Government has passed frameworks for legislation and regulation regarding political participation and innovations in recent years, such as the Ley de Participación (Law of Participation) and Ley de los Consejos de Igualdad (Law of Equality Councils). In this context, political experimentalism has increased since the victory of Rafael Correa to the Presidency, who has been most active in regarding the implementation of innovative institutional designs in the country.
Different to other Latin American countries, there doesn’t seem to be any major involvement or influence by international organizations and agencies in the creation of democratic innovations in Ecuador. However, civil society organizations have assumed a fundamental role in this field. Organizations of farmers, peasants, indigenous populations, and groups fighting for gender rights, among others, have formed an important part of the winning coalition that brought Rafael Correa to power, and they have consequently also played a central role in opening up the state institutions to society.
The main innovation in Ecuador is the creation, as part of the new Constitution, of a fifth state power responsible for promoting citizen participation across the country. This innovation is concretized by the Consejo de Participacion Ciudadana y Control Social (Council for Citizen Participation and Social Monitoring). The Consejos de Igualdad (Equality Councils) emerge as another relevant innovation. The Federal Government has strongly promoted these innovations in order to deal with relevant questions related to the social history and cultural life of the country. At the local level, some innovations like the municipal councils for planning, citizens’ local assemblies, and participatory budgeting are also enforced by law.
The country has experienced a complete renovation regarding political institutions opening windows for social organizations and citizens to participate. Nevertheless, some have argued that this process is not completely autonomous, and some criticism has been made regarding the fact that many of the groups who participate in these forums have strong ties with Alianza Pais – Correa’s political party.
Participatory Urban Agriculture Project (AGRUPAR)
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Plurinational and Intercultural Citizen Assembly for Buen Vivir (Good Living)
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National Council for Equality of Peoples and Nationalities
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Citizen Dialogue on Constitutional Amendments
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