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Ecuador’s Election a “Referendum on Economic Policies,” CEPR Co-Director Says
Reelection of President Correa in First Round with Alianza País Majority in Assembly a “Clear Mandate”
WASHINGTON - February 18 - Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa’s victory in the first round of elections and the election of a majority of his Alianza País party to the National Assembly presents a “clear mandate” for the continuation of Correa’s economic policies, Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.
Correa was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote. His nearest challenger, Guillermo Lasso, received 23 percent. Correa’s Alianza País party has a clear majority in the National Assembly, getting 52 percent of the vote, according to the National Electoral Council’s tabulation of 11 percent of ballots so far.
“There’s no surprise here but there seems to be debate over the meaning of these elections,” said Weisbrot. “During Correa’s presidency there has been solid economic growth and unemployment hit a record low of 4.1 percent last year; poverty has been reduced by 27 percent, real education spending has doubled, and access to health care increased. These accomplishments are more than enough to explain the electoral results.”
“On the other hand, much of the international media has attributed Correa’s success to a combination of high oil prices and ‘government largesse.’ This is an oversimplification and a misunderstanding.”
Weisbrot noted that the Correa government instituted a whole set of financial and regulatory reforms, in addition to crucial counter-cyclical fiscal policy during the world recession, in order to achieve these successes.
“I’m afraid that the governing party’s (Alianza País) winning a majority in the National Assembly will serve as fuel for much of the media’s continuing theme of a president with ‘too much power.’ But this is what democracy looks like: when a government succeeds, voters reward it at the polls.”
Weisbrot noted that there is also a prejudice against Correa in much reporting and analysis because of the media’s general bias against the left governments of South America, which are often portrayed as part of an “anti-American” alliance led by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. He expects that these themes and prejudices will continue to pervade much of the reporting during Correa’s next four years.