The Electoral Reforms of 1861 in Ecuador and the Rise of a New Political Order

  • Juan Maiguashca
Part of the Institute of Latin American Studies Series book series (LASS)


Ecuador became an independent nation in 1830. Its first constitution declared that its government would be: ‘popular, representative, alternative and accountable’.1 It was only in 1978, however, that the seventeenth constitution of the country abolished the literacy requirement, thus permitting the bulk of the Ecuadorean population to elect governments which were, in principle at least, truly popular, representative, alternative and accountable. In the century and a half that elapsed between these two dates, there took place a struggle between those who wanted to restrict the system of representation in one way or another and those who worked to expand it. Of the many clashes perhaps the most interesting and decisive of all was that which took place in 1861. Very little however has been written on the subject and that which exists is in need of revision.2


Political Participation Proportional Representation Equal Representation Territorial Unit National Convention 
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  1. 1.
    F. Trabucco, Constituciones de la república del Ecuador (Guayaquil, 1975), p. 34.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The literature on the Ecuadorean electoral process in the 19th century is extremely thin: J. Tobar Donoso, ‘El sufragio en el Ecuador’, Revista de la Asociación de Derecho (1949); R. Quintero, ‘El carácter de la estructura institucional de representatión política en el estado ecuatoriano del siglo XIX’, Revista Ciencias Sociales, vol. II, nos. 7–8 (1978); M. Medina Castro, ‘Proceso evolutivo del electorado national’, in E. Ayala (ed.), La historia del Ecuador, ensayos de interpretation (1985); and E. Albán Gómez, ‘Evolutión del sistema electoral ecuatoriano’, in Tribunal Supremo Electoral, Eleccionesy democracia en el Ecuador, vol I. El Proceso electoral ecuatoriano (Quito, 1989).Google Scholar
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  4. 4.
    See, in particular, M Kossok, ‘Revolutión, estado y natión en la Independencia’, in I. Buisson et al. (eds.), Problemas de la formatión del estado y la natión en Hispanoamérica (Bonn, 1984), p. 169, and S. Valenzuela, Democratizatión vía reforma: La expansión del sufragio en Chile (Buenos Aires, 1985).Google Scholar
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  37. 37.
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  39. 39.
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  41. 41.
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  42. 42.
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  43. 43.
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  44. 44.
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  49. 49.
    All the evidence suggests that the only doctrinaire liberals in the Convention were the two young representatives from Loja: Toribio Mora and Francisco Arias. Mora published his views in an influential paper in that province, which he himself established, La Federación. See A. Mora Reyes, Don Manuel Carrión Pinzano y el gobierno federal de Loja y trs maestros lojanos (Loja, 1959).Google Scholar
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  51. 51.
    For the use of the concept of ‘generation’ in Ecuadorian cultural history, see J. Valdano, Ecuador: cultura y generaciones (Quito, 1985), p. 87. Political historians could emulate cultural historians and use this concept to their great advantage. It acknowledges a phenomenon of social life. It allows the historian an opportunity to avoid falling victim either to the notion of ‘the great man’ or to class determinism.Google Scholar
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  54. 54.
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  58. 58.
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  59. 59.
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  60. 60.
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  61. 61.
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  62. 62.
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  63. 63.
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© Institute of Latin American Studies 1996

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  • Juan Maiguashca

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