President Rafael Correa declares victory in Ecuador’s elections
According to state figures Correa is leading with 56.6 percent of the vote against 24 percent for his closest challenger former banker Guillermo Lasso, with some 30.5 percent of the vote counted.
Earlier private exit polls had given Correa a clear lead – Opinion Publica gave him 61% against 21% for his opponent. Cedatos gave Correa 59% against 20% for Lasso.
An Ecuadorean state TV poll gave Correa 61 percent ahead of 21 percent for his nearest rival. Following such a strong performance in the exit poll, Correa has declared victory.
None of the other six candidates had more than 6 percent. They include former President Lucio Gutierrez, former Cabinet minister Alberto Acosta, banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa, evangelical minister Nelson Zavala, former city official Norman Wray and attorney Mauricio Rodas are also in the race.
The Organization of American States and the Union of South American Nations have been monitoring the transparency in Ecuador’s elections.
The only president in the past two decades to complete a full term in office, Correa, in his third term is expected to continue to strengthen the oil-producing economy and reinforce the position of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) as a regional force countering US influence in the region.
A country of 14.6 million people had 28 percent living in poverty in 2011, down from 37 percent in 2006, the year before Mr. Correa took office, according to World Bank data.
Opposition accuse the President of suppressing free speech and crushing free enterprise through heavy taxation and constant regulatory changes.
People read newspapers as others wait in line to vote at a polling station in Calderon, north of Quito February 17, 2013.(Reuters / Guillermo Granja)
'Correa was marked to win'
President Rafael Correa was marked to win in the first round, Adrian Salbuchi, the founder of the Second Republic Project in Argentina told RT.
“Public opinion throughout Latin America is growing, we're weary with US and UK intervention throughout the country,” he explained. “Which explains why countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia even Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua are having governments that are keeping aloof or at arm’s length from the United States.”
The opposition hardly stands a chance of winning since most of them “to a greater or lesser degree are pro-US,” Salbuchi added.
In Latin America there is a very strong popular movement trying to move away from the United States. Not without some problems, it is still gaining momentum and Correa will become “increasingly important especially now when we are in a bit of a crisis regionally because of the illness of Mr Chavez in Venezuela,” Salbuchi said.
It is a truth of life that Ecuador is a relatively small country so it “does not have that much leverage,” but for example in Julian Assange’s case, Salbuchi believes, Correa’s victory means continued support for him and his extended stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom.
Indigenous Ecuadoreans line up to vote in Cangahua, 45 km northeast of Quito, on February 17, 2013.(AFP Photo / Daniel Molineros)