QUITO – President Rafael Correa won re-election in Ecuador over the weekend and vowed to move ahead with his “citizens’ revolution,” focusing on improving the lives of “the poorest people” in the Andean nation.
The 46-year-old Correa has 51.72 percent of the vote, with 70.36 percent of the ballots counted, the National Elections Council, or CNE, said on Monday.
“This is a day of joy, about the future, we are taking a historic step to consolidate this citizens’ revolution,” Correa said in a press conference after the first exit-poll results were released.
Correa thanked his supporters and all those who voted for him, and he said his administration had started a revolution that “is in motion and nothing can stop it.”
The early general elections held on Sunday were mandated by the new constitution that voters in the Andean nation approved in a referendum last September.
Correa, a U.S.-trained economist who took office in January 2007, pushed for adoption of the new constitution.
The new constitution, which was drafted between November 2007 and July 2008 by a Constituent Assembly, is the 20th in Ecuador’s history.
The new charter, which opened the way for immediate presidential re-election, gives the president greater control over the oil industry and monetary policy, as well as the power to dissolve Congress once in a four-year term.
It also gives the state the right to expropriate idle land and to declare some of Ecuador’s foreign debt illegitimate, among other measures.
Correa contends that the new constitution allows the country to craft “long-term” policies for the benefit of the nation’s poor.
Critics, however, claim the charter invests too much power in the executive branch and undermines the system of checks and balances.
Former President Lucio Gutierrez, one of eight candidates vying for the presidency, garnered 27.98 percent of the vote, the CNE said.
The presidency, governorships, national and regional legislative seats, and local offices were up for grabs in Sunday’s general elections. EFE