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Kenneth Janda
Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press, 1980: pp. 504-505
ECUADOR: The Party System in 1950-1956 and 1957-1962
(Text as published in 1980 citation above)

Our time period of interest covers a period of relative political stability in Ecuador, for it follows the administration of Galo Plaza Lasso, who was elected in 1948 and became the first president since 1924 to complete his four year term, and concludes just before the military coup of 1963. During our period, presidential elections were held on schedule in 1952, 1956, and 1960. There were three major parties during our time period and a number of smaller ones, two of which are included along with the more major ones to constitute the ICPP parties for Ecuador. The parties frequently formed coalitions to contest presidential elections while running candidates under their own labels for congressional elections. (Presidents were unable to succeed themselves but could run four years later.)

Plaza was elected in 1948 by the Movimiento Civico Democratico Nacional, an anti-Conservative group that included Liberals and other parties. The Movimiento Civico Democratico Nacional appears to have folded by the 1952 election, which saw José Maria Velasco Ibarra, who had been president before Plaza, form his Federación Nacional Velasquista Party and win over three other parties and candidates. Four candidates contested the 1956 elections, won by Camilo Ponce Enríquez, a Conservative who ran on the Popular Alliance ticket in coalition with the Social Christian Party.

Plaza reappeared in the 1960 elections as a Radical Liberal candidate, but he ran behind the Conservative candidate, Gonzalo Cordero Crespo, and Velasco, who was again reelected. But Velasco's economic policies produced a slump in the Ecuadorian economy, and he became engaged in conflict with the congress, under the leadership of Vice President Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy. Velasco was forced out of the country in November 1961 and was replaced by Arosemena, whose administration was terminated in 1963 by a coup following domestic unrest and terrorist acts.

Continuity and Change since 1962

The accompanying graph shows two distinct phases in Ecuador's politics. Throughout our original study, Ecuador had a confusing but functioning party system Following the coup of 1963, however, the congress was dissolved and parties had no opportunities to contest elections until the election of a constituent assembly 1966 and the general election of 1968 for congress and the president. In the absence of information about the distribution of party seats following the 1968 congressional election, the figures for 1966 are used as estimates of party strength in the congress. José Maria Velasco Ibarra, elected in 1968, dissolved the congress in 1970 and ruled until ousted by a coup in February 1972. He was succeeded in 1976 by a three man junta which announced presidential elections for January 1978. Elections were eventually held in July, but no candidate received a majority of votes, and a run-off was scheduled within three months. They were then postponed until April 1979, when the first congressional elections since 1968 were also to be held. In the absence of opportunities to observe the parties, it is difficult to judge their continuity over time. The occasion of the first round of the 1978 presidential election, however, allows the conclusions that four of the original parties still exist while one has terminated. In the absence of congressional elections, it is impossible to determine if any new parties e strong enough to qualify for study.

Original Parties, Terminated

354 Socialist Party. The Socialist Party terminated 1964 when it split into a moderate party that continued to be called the Socialist Party, a second moderate group called the Unified Socialist Party, and a third ore radical group known as the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Original Parties, Continuing

351 National Velaquista Federation. The FNV was identified as leading the opposition to the January 1978 referendum on the new constitution. There was no FNV candidate in the presidential election (Keesing's Contemporary Archives, April 28, 1978, p. 28951), and Velasco died in 1979, raising doubt about the party's future.

352 Conservative Party. The Conservative Party won some mayoral elections in local elections in July, but it did not participate in the conservative front that contested the presidential election (Keesing's Contemporary Archives, November 24, 1978, p. 29330).

353 Radical Liberal Party. The PLR sponsored Raúl Clemente Huerta Rendon in the presidential election, and he ran a close third but failed to qualify for the run-off scheduled for 1979.

355 Concentration of Popular Forces. The CFP candidate in the 1978 presidential election, Jaime Roldós Aguilera, led after the first round and was elected president in April 1979, defeating Sixto Durán Ballén Cordovez, candidate of the right-wing National Constitutional Front.


Thus it seems that Ecuador's parties, like parties in many other South American countries, have the persistence of dandelions. Mowing the field removes them only temporarily; they reappear when the environment is less hostile.

[For party politics in Ecuador since 1962, go to the essay by Kathryn B. Sanderson]

1. Our study of party politics in Ecuador is based on a file of 936 pages from 54 documents, 18 of which are in Spanish (see Table 1.3). The bibliographic search and indexing of material for the file was done by James Johnson. Doreen Kostel Ellis and Larry Goldberg used the file to code the Ecuadorian parties on the variables in the ICPP conceptual framework. George Blanksten was our consultant.