Is out! Understanding the use of recall referendums. The frequency of recall activations has been explained by 1) citizen dissatisfaction, 2) institutional design (ease of activation), and 3) partisan use (against opponents). Our work proposes an additional variable: 4) the role of electoral management bodies (EMBs) in allowing or preventing recalls. In Ecuador, recall has been transformed into an indirect instrument of political struggle controlled by the EMB.
The Consejo Nacional Electoral is responsible for judging whether the reasons presented for the recall are sufficient. This granted power to non-elected authorities to evaluate and decide on the validity of a politically based request.
Even though some studies may find that the CNE has been controlled by actors close to government, we did not find evidence of its use against opponents. Under Correa the political arena was mainly defined by the leader and around himself.
Local governments have lost centrality and recall deactivation may have been part of this movement. The Correa government has gone, and the new rules remain. Should we regard them as latent and able to be reactivated in a democratic way?
We see a danger in the current design of the mechanism. It puts incentives for either manipulation and elite control or for unclear decisions in the hands of a body whose main task should be to formally supervise and control but not to judge politically based requests.