Correa says election victory will allow him to widen socialist reforms


Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa is revelling in a sweeping re-election victory that allows him to deepen his socialist revolution even as he seeks to woo foreign investment in the resource-wealthy Andean nation.

Mr Correa (49), a pugnacious economist, trounced his nearest rival by more than 30 percentage points on Sunday to win a new four-year term.

He has already been in power for six years, winning broad support with ambitious social spending programmes.

His resounding victory could set Mr Correa up to become Latin America’s most outspoken critic of Washington, a role played to date by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. He is locked in a battle with cancer and may be unable to stay in power, despite his return to Venezuela yesterday from Cuba.

Mr Correa, who dedicated his victory to Mr Chávez, is now the region’s loudest voice arguing against the free-market reforms promoted by Washington and in favour of state-driven economies and expanding ties with China.

The continued success of Latin American socialism will depend on strong commodities prices that underpin generous social spending, and Correa needs to improve Ecuadors stagnant oil production .

In a sign he wants to deepen socialist reforms, his legislative agenda includes a law to regulate television and newspaper content, part of his ongoing confrontation with opposition media.

Mr Correa is also expected to seek changes to a mining law that would help to close a deal with Canada’s Kinross to develop a large gold reserve. That will be a major test of his ability to offer investment security while ensuring the state keeps a large portion of revenue.

Critics say Mr Correa is a dangerous authoritarian who has curbed media freedom and controlled state institutions.

– (Reuters)