The votes are counted after the election February 13th and the voters decision is very clear. President Correa got 56.5 percent of the votes in the presidential election and his party Alianca Pais got two-thirds of the seats in the parliament.
Otherwise, the old ghosts, ex-President Lucio Guttierez, the banana king Alvaro Noboa and ex-President Abdala Bucarams deputy Nelson Zavala, was completely rebuffed by respectively 6.9. 3.9 and 1.4 percent. We can assume that they now belong to history. The right wings voice will from now on belong to Guillermo Lasso who received 22.5% of the votes. He was defeated, but as he says, he still represents nearly one-fourth of the people. The Left Alliance candidate Alberto Acosta only received 3.3 percent. They did not manage to deprive Correa his support among the indigenous population.
Why was Correa’s victory so superb and what do this means for Ecuador in the next four years? The answer to the first one is easy. Before Correa’s election victory in 2006 Ecuador was a mess. There were seven Presidents the previous ten years, powerless or indifferents. Two of those (Abdala Bucaram and Lucio Gutierrez) was deposed and driven out of the country. A catastrophic bank crisis in 1999, combined with extreme inflation caused the country to replace its own currency (sucre) with U.S. dollars in 2000. People was tired of the political system and the politicians in general. Correa has managed to introduce stability and can show results. There has been improvement in the health care and in the education sector. It has been introduced social programs and it has been built roads. In particular, the development of a program of services and rights for the disabled, (Vice President Lenin Moreno’s project) has attracted international attention. Correa overall political project is to transform Ecuador from a traditional Latin American commodity supplier to an industrial society with emphasis on technology and services, with the state as central actor. This is of course not done in one day. Correa have had his fights with the United States, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The party program has four main points; redistribution of farmlands, a new model for access to water resources. introduction of new taxes and greater opening credits from banks.
The first two referred to as the land and water reform has been on the schedule since 2008, but proved difficult to implement since it conflicts with existing rights and property. Much of the criticism from the indigenous organization CONAIE has been the absence of the fulfillment of this promise. Similarly, there has been the fear of this that has mobilized his opponents on the right wing. Now Alianca Pais has a qualified majority in parliament and that make law changes posible. So we’ll see what they decide to do.
But Correa’s political plans will cost. He is an economist and he is painfully aware of this. Some revenues are expected from the introduction of additional taxes. Oil prices are relatively high and provide good income to the state. Secondly, the government Correa has negotiated several agreements on credits from China in exchange for mining concessions.
Some say that Ecuador has replaced Uncle Sam by Uncle Chen. The increase of mining operations concern the locals. earlier there have been examples of contamination of drinking water. Chinese companies have also been operating in violation of Ecuador’s labour laws .
Environmentalists also worry about whether Ecuador will go for the oil reserves in the rainforest area. Correa’s government has so far preferred to keep an ecological profile. A proposal for a compensation from rich countries for letting the oil and forests remain untouched, the so-called Yasuni ITT initiative, has been discussed with interest in several countries. Unfortunately, not with enogh succes yet. Perhaps the economic crisis has contributed to it. It is therefore a question of how long a poor country can leave these opportunity for income rest.