Government, Political Parties
Conaie, centrist Party, landed aristocracy, Guayaquil, social structure
Traditionally, the important political groups were the Conservative Party and the Liberals (officially the Liberal Radical Party). The Conservatives spoke for the landed aristocracy and the Catholic Church. Their stronghold was the old administrative capital Quito. The Liberals represented the country's wealthy and anticlerical mercantile elite. Their base was Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and commercial center. Until the second half of the 20th century, the great majority of the population had no political voice. The real stakes of political conflicts, whether electoral or violent, were the division of spoils among groups within the upper classes.
Since World War II (1939-1945), although the social structure has not basically changed, the vote has been vastly extended. Ecuadorian political life has become much more varied and open, and the two traditional parties have dwindled into relative insignificance. In the early 21st century Ecuador had more than ten political parties, and they often formed coalitions to support candidates for election. Some of the more important parties included the leftist People’s Democracy-Christian Democrat Union, the conservative Social Christian Party, the populist Ecuadorian Roldosist Party, the centrist Party of the Democratic Left, and the Plurinational Pachakutik Movement-New Country, a Native American party. In the 1990s Native Americans gained increased influence over Ecuador’s politics through both the Pachakutik party and the Ecuadorian Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), a group led by Native American farmers.
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