Ecuador chief Rafael Correa breezes to second re-election
By Gonzalo Solano and Gabriela Molina, APQUITO, Ecuador -- A landslide second re-election secured, President Rafael Correa immediately vowed to deepen the “citizen's revolution” that has lifted tens of thousands of Ecuadoreans out of poverty as he expanded the welfare state.
February 19, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
“In this revolution the citizens are in charge, not capital,” the leftist U.S.-trained economist said after winning 56.9 percent of the vote Sunday against 23.8 percent for his closest challenger, longtime banker Guillermo Lasso.
With 57 percent of the vote counted, former President Lucio Gutierrez finished third with 6 percent. The remainder was divided among five other candidates. Lasso conceded defeat late Sunday.
The fiery-tongued Correa has brought surprising stability to an oil-exporting nation of 14.6 million with a history of unruliness that cycled through seven presidents in the decade before him.
With the help of oil prices that have hovered around US$100 a barrel, he has raised lower-class living standards and widened the welfare state with region-leading social spending.
The 48-year-old Correa dedicated his victory to his cancer-stricken friend President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who some analysts have suggested he could succeed as the standard-bearer of Latin America's left.
“We are only here to serve you. Nothing for us. Everything for you,” Correa told cheering supporters from the balcony of the Carondelet presidential palace Sunday shortly after polls closed.
Yet Correa has also drawn wide rebuke for intolerance of dissent and some analysts have questioned how sustainable his economic policies are. The number of people working for the government has burgeoned from 16,000 to 90,000 during Correa's current term if office, Ecuador's nongovernmental Observatory of Fiscal Policy reported in December.