Between 1979 and 1997 the changes of government took place according to democratic rules. After the withdrawal of the military, Jaime Roldós Aguilera (* 1940, † 1981) of the populist CFP (Concentración de Fuerzas Populares) became the first democratically elected president. After his death in a plane crash (May 1981), Vice President Oswaldo Hurtado Larrea (* 1939) took over the office. 1984–88 the PSC provided the president with Leon Febres Cordero (* 1931, † 2008), 1988–92 the ID with Rodrigo Borja Cevallos (* 1935). All governments have faced difficult economic and socio-economic problems, as well as pressure from international financial institutions. In 1992 a new conservative party split off from the PSC, the Partido Unidad Republicano (PUR); its leader Sixto Durán Ballén (* 1921, † 2016) won the presidential elections in July of the same year. His orthodox neoliberal economic policy had little success. The 1996 presidential elections were won in the 2nd ballot by Abdalá Bucaram (* 1952) by the Partido Rodolsista Ecuatoriano (PRE) with a populist program. He took office in August 1996, but was dismissed by parliament in February 1997 for “incompetence” due to ongoing mass demonstrations against his policies. Even under the Christian Democrat Jamil Mahuad (* 1949), who was elected president in 1998, the country did not come to rest. A severe economic and financial crisis in January 2000 led to ongoing social unrest led by trade unions and indigenous organizations. Middle ranks of the military under the leadership of Lucio Gutiérrez (* 1957) allied themselves with the masses; a bloodless coup ended with the overthrow of President Mahuad. According to insidewatch, his main merit was the end of the border conflict between Ecuador and Peru, which had existed for 165 years, with the “Acta Presidencial de Brasilia” signed on October 26th, 1998 and the final determination of the border between the two countries (May 12th, 1999). In consultation with the military, Parliament elected Vice President Gustavo Noboa (* 1937) as his successor. In order to resolve the economic and financial crisis, parliament decided to introduce the US dollar as the national currency from September 2000.
In the presidential elections in November 2002, the exputschist and former Colonel Gutiérrez (PSP) prevailed in the runoff election. Gutiérrez, who was elected as an alternative bearer of hope, came to terms with the established political elite, ruled with different parties depending on the interests of the parliament and submitted to the demands of the International Monetary Fund.
Since December 2004 Gutiérrez relied on an extremely fragile party alliance. Parliament succeeded in changing the composition of the Supreme Electoral Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court in favor of the government alliance. The resulting government crisis was exacerbated by numerous demonstrations, which in April 2005 led Gutiérrez to temporarily declare a state of emergency (and a ban on gatherings). After violent riots Gutiérrez was removed from office on April 20, 2005 by the Congress, which the previous Vice President Alfredo Palacio (* 1939) temporarily assumed.
On November 26, 2006, R. Correa Delgado won the presidential election after a runoff election (in office: January 15, 2007). A constituent assembly was elected on October 1, 2007 to draft a new constitution as the basis for a comprehensive reform of the state, in which the forces supporting Correa received an absolute majority. A military attack on the part of Colombia against a camp of the guerrilla organization FARC in Ecuador triggered a diplomatic crisis between the neighboring countries in early March 2008, which was mediated by the OAS was settled. On July 25, 2008, the Constituante passed a socialist draft constitution, for which 63.9% of the electorate voted in a referendum on September 28, 2008. With the new constitution, which strengthened the rights of the president, more control options and greater state participation in “strategic sectors” such as oil production and telecommunications created, and restrictions on privatizations made possible. The population confirmed Correa in office for elections on April 26, 2009. V. a. the urban middle class accused the president of drifting too far to the left, securing authoritarian power through new laws and strict controls on the private sector. However, the poorer sections of the population benefited from economic stabilization and improved social security. On a foreign policy front, Ecuador sought to strengthen ties with left-wing governments in Latin America, while relations with the United States continued to cool. On September 30, 2010, Correa was arrested by mutinous police units in a police hospital and had to be freed by the military.
On February 17, 2013, the population reaffirmed Correa in office. On October 31, 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that, within the framework of a planned constitutional reform, Parliament could also decide to allow all elected officials in the civil service to have an unlimited term of office. The court thus cleared the way for a possible renewed candidacy of the incumbent president. Pope Francis’ visit in July 2015 coincided with the worst crisis for President R. Correa since he took office. In Guayaquil and Quito, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against government policy, a planned tax reform and the planned constitutional reform. Accompanied by protests from opposition groups, the National Assembly passed a package of 15 constitutional amendments on December 3, 2015, including the lifting of the term limits for holders of public office and the restriction of referendum opportunities. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the province of Esmeraldas killed over 680 people on April 16, 2016. The higher government spending required by the natural disaster further worsened the country’s tense economic situation due to the low oil price. On April 2nd, 2017, L. Moreno Garcés sat in the runoff election for the presidency, Candidate of the governing party PAĺS and 2007–13 Vice President, with around 51.2% of the votes against Guillermo Lasso Mendoza (* 1955). Moreno was sworn in as president on May 24th, 2017.
In February 2021, at least 75 prisoners were killed in riots in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga prisons. The trigger was a power struggle within the »Los Choneros« gang. In Latin America there are frequent bloody clashes in prisons, most of which are controlled by criminal gangs.
On June 19, 2012, J. Assange , the co-founder of WikiLeaks, sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to prevent his extradition to Sweden. In August 2012, Ecuador granted Assange political asylum. As a result, there was considerable tension between Ecuador and Great Britain. Assange stayed exclusively at the embassy until 2019. On December 12th, 2017 he received the Ecuadorian citizenship.