[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Ecuador [official website, in Spanish] on Friday ruled [press release, PDF, in Spanish] that congress may vote on proposal to allow unlimited re-election terms. The case was brought to the court by the ruling Alianza Pais [party website, in Spanish] party, which proposed indefinite re-election for elected officials in June. It is anticipated that lawmakers will vote in favor of the proposal since Alianza Pais controls 100 of 137 seats in the National Assembly. If the law is enacted, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa will be able to run for a third term. In its decision, the court also approved several amendments that had been voted for by lawmakers, including making communication a “public service,” authorizing the army to help police with security in the interior of the country and reducing to minimum age to be elected president from 35 to 30.
Correa has been criticized for consolidating power since his election to the presidency in 2007. In 2011 Ecuadorian voters approved [JURIST report] a series of judicial, social and other governmental reforms backed by Correa and approved [JURIST report] by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador. The judicial reforms included provisions to dissolve the standing oversight body and replace it with a temporary body to oversee the restructuring of the national court system. The referendum law also allows longer detentions of suspected criminals without formal charges and includes prohibitions on gambling and casinos, limits on bullfighting and cockfighting and bans media companies from owning non-media companies. Legal unrest plagued Ecuador after September 2008 when voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that expanded [JURIST report] presidential authority, including the power to dissolve the legislature and pass laws by executive decree. Despite the stated purpose of the reforms, critics of Correa accused his regime of using the new laws to consolidate power and quiet dissent.