Friday, October 19, 2007

Ecuador: Forging a 'citizens' revolution'

After winning a stunning 82% of the vote in the April 14 referendum for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, Ecuador's left-wing president Rafael Correa scored his third major victory in a year on September 30 with his party, Country Alliance, winning 70% of the votes for the new assembly.

The extremely popular constituent assembly, based on similar projects in Venezuela and Bolivia, will begin sitting in mid-November, and will have at least six months to re-write the constitution. Correa's allies in the assembly will include the Socialist Party, the indigenous party Pachakutik and the Movement for Popular Democracy, however his party has the required majority to pass reforms without their support.

Unlike the constituent assembly in Bolivia, which has been bogged down by the right-wing opposition, the Ecuadorian assembly only requires a simple majority to approve any proposed measure. When its work is complete, the new constitution will be put to a referendum, and new elections called.

However, Correa is already calling for the dissolution of the Congress, a body widely regarded as corrupt and useless. While left-wing deputies have offered their resignations, the right-wing "party-ocracy", as Correa calls them, is crying foul, although they are too politically impotent to have any real effect.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ecuador: Landslide triumph for the left

On September 30, Ecuador went to the polls for the fourth time in under a year and gave supporters of left-wing President Rafael Correa a massive majority in the new Constituent Assembly.

The assembly is a project of Correa — a 44-year-old left-wing economist and former finance minister — who came to power this year promising a "citizens' revolution" to overcome the country's massive poverty and to build "socialism of the 21st century".

Final results won't be known until late October, however preliminary results indicate that Correa's party, Alianza Pais, won around 70% of the vote, giving it some 80 of the 130 assembly delegates. Correa can also expect support in the assembly from representatives of the Socialist Party of Ecuador — Broad Front, the Movement for Popular Democracy and indigenous party Pachakutik — Nuevo Pais.

The outcome was a huge blow to the right-wing opposition, whose traditional parties all scored pitiful votes. The Social Christian Party, the country's largest party, scored less than 4%. The "anti-corruption" PRIAN of Alvaro Noboa — Correa's opponent in the presidential election run-offs last year and Ecuador's richest man — scored around 6%.