Rafael Correa has been re-elected president of Ecuador for a third term, immediately vowing to deepen what he called the “citizens’ revolution” that has lifted tens of thousands of Ecuadoreans out of poverty.
Mr Correa has brought stability to the nation of 14.6 million with a history of unruliness that cycled through seven presidents in the decade before him.
“In this revolution the citizens are in charge, not capital,” the left-wing economist said after winning 56.9 per cent of the vote on Sunday. He cannot stand for a fourth term of office.
Mr Correa, 48, dedicated his victory to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, 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,” Mr Correa told cheering supporters from the balcony of the Carondelet presidential palace.
However, Mr Correa has drawn wide rebuke for intolerance of dissent and some analysts have questioned how sustainable his economic policies for the oil-exporting nation are.
The number of people working for the government has jumped from 16,000 to 90,000 during Mr Correa’s current term of office, Ecuador’s non-governmental Observatory of Fiscal Policy reported in December.
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think-tank, called Mr Correa’s ramping up of social spending “applying the standard recipe for many populist governments in the region”.
While it succeeds in building political support in the short term, he said, it is not clear whether it is sustainable.