Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa decisively won re-election Sunday, with his margin of victory reflecting the popularity of social and economic programs he has enacted that have led some to compare him to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“Correa’s overwhelming victory shows that a high level of social spending, backed by a huge oil windfall, is a winning political formula,” Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, told Trend Lines in an email interview. “Correa understood that infrastructure projects like roads mean a lot in Ecuadoreans’ daily lives, and are the best way to build political support.”
Shifter said that Correa’s challengers had little chance of defeating the president, who emerged with 30 percent more votes than his closest competitor, because there is such broad support for Correa’s social spending programs. Shifter also pointed to the “sorry state” of the opposition, which is weak and fractured, lacks leadership to bring together its disparate factions and has shown no signs of a coherent strategy. In addition, there is “enormous cumulative popular resentment against the traditional political class and economic establishment,” according to Shifter.