Ecuador: Presidential elections: neo-liberalism defeated

On 26 November Ecuador elected its eighth president in ten years. Rafael Correa, briefly an economics minister in the outgoing government and ‘left-Christian’ leader of the year-old National Alliance, defeated his neo-liberal billionaire opponent Alvaro Noboa with 57% of the second-round vote against Noboa’s 43%. Expected to win in the first round on 15 October, Correa lost to Noboa by 22.8% votes to 26.8% votes. The subsequent turnaround certainly came from a popular reaction to Noboa’s threats to privatise Petroecuador, the principal source of state revenue and the state electricity and telephone companies. His proposal to privatise social security as well would condemn 200,000 elderly people to immediate misery.

But presidential and legislative voting patterns don’t match, and Correa has virtually no support in the single legislative chamber. In opposition to the President, Noboa will certainly ally with the Social Patriotic Party of former president Lucio Gutierrez whom the masses forced from office in April 2005. Building ruling class unity will be essential since, despite their fractured political organisation, the indigenous groups and poor urban workers, along with the better-off oil and electricity workers, will demand action from Correa to rescue the country from debt and poverty. A first step will be a referendum scheduled for 18 March to set up a Constituent Assembly.

Alvaro Michaels

FRFI 195 February / March 2007


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