The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ecuador president claims poll win

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has claimed victory in the country's election after two exit polls indicated he had more than 50% of the vote.

The polls suggest the leftist Mr Correa has a decisive lead over his main rivals, ex-President Lucio Gutierrez and banana mogul Alvaro Noboa.

The results, if confirmed, mean Mr Correa will not need to face a run-off to take his second term in office.

His opponents have accused him of strong-arm tactics to retain power.

Mr Correa had been widely expected to win the vote, which he had called under a new constitution designed to reform Ecuador's political institutions.

Mr Correa said the country had "made history".

"This revolution is on the march, and nobody and nothing can stop us," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying after the exit polls were released.

The exit polls indicate Mr Correa won at least 54% of the vote. Mr Gutierrez took 28% while Mr Noboa got 10.2%, the Cedatos-Gallup polling group said.

Mr Gutierrez said he would wait until the official results were released before accepting Mr Correa's victory.

If Mr Correa's victory is officially confirmed, Ecuador will avoid a second-round run-off vote for the first time in 30 years.

In addition to selecting the president, voters elected members of the National Assembly and regional and municipal offices.


Mr Correa first came to office in January 2007.

During his first term in office, he won a following through massively increasing social spending and talking tough to the foreign investors and multinationals many Ecuadoreans feel are exploiting their country.

He has also provided firm leadership in a country that in the past has been characterised by political instability, says the BBC's Latin America analyst, James Painter.

"Ecuadoreans will decide between a past of looting and injustice or a much more beautiful future of change," he told thousands of supporters at his closing campaign rally, according to Reuters news agency.

But his opponents accuse him of riding roughshod over the country's democratic institutions by backing the adoption of a new constitution in a popular vote last September, says our analyst.

Among other things, the constitution increased state controls on private industry and land and allowed Mr Correa to run for re-election.

It also gave 16-year-olds, prison inmates, police and soldiers the vote.

"You are bowing your head to a tyrant, and I am not going to allow that, I want to return dignity and pride to Ecuador," said Mr Noboa at his closing rally, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Mr Gutierrez accused Mr Correa of repelling foreign investors.

Tough outlook

If his victory is confirmed, he will face a very difficult economic context, says our correspondent.

Ecuador is a member of Opec, and oil accounts for more than 60% of its exports.

If oil prices remain low, Mr Correa would have much less money to spend on social programmes.

If so, Mr Correa's decision to default on billions of dollars of debt he termed "illegal" last year could make it more difficult for him to borrow money to cover the gap, our correspondent says.

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