Another Hugo Chavez in the making?

RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, has vowed to overhaul Ecuadorian politics after receiving an overwhelming mandate to convene an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. Correa, who has threatened to default on Ecuador’s external debt and consistently confronted established elites since taking power in January, won a stunning 83 percent of votes cast. Correa sold the assembly to ...

602583_070416_correa_05.jpg
602583_070416_correa_05.jpg

RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, has vowed to overhaul Ecuadorian politics after receiving an overwhelming mandate to convene an assembly to rewrite the country's constitution. Correa, who has threatened to default on Ecuador's external debt and consistently confronted established elites since taking power in January, won a stunning 83 percent of votes cast. Correa sold the assembly to the electorate as an opportunity to neutralize the traditional political parties that dominate the Ecuadorian congress, and he has been quick to emphasize his reformist ambitions:

This assembly with broad powers could reform the legislative, judicial and even the executive branch... let's move ahead with this assembly to have a real representative democracy."

RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, has vowed to overhaul Ecuadorian politics after receiving an overwhelming mandate to convene an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. Correa, who has threatened to default on Ecuador’s external debt and consistently confronted established elites since taking power in January, won a stunning 83 percent of votes cast. Correa sold the assembly to the electorate as an opportunity to neutralize the traditional political parties that dominate the Ecuadorian congress, and he has been quick to emphasize his reformist ambitions:

This assembly with broad powers could reform the legislative, judicial and even the executive branch… let’s move ahead with this assembly to have a real representative democracy.”

A lot of people are worried about Correa’s victory, fearing that the leftist firebrand is a Chavista dictator in the making. These people don’t know Ecuador. The assembly will be a forum for the polarized forces of Ecuadorian politics to have out their differences—witness former President Lucio Gutierrez’s proclaiming, “I will defeat him [Correa] in the assembly.” Observe, too, the calm reaction of the bond markets, which see only a nasty confrontation moving into the realm of jaw-jaw. Most importantly, look at Ecuadorian history: three presidents ousted in a decade, and a century of corrupt and violent politics.  Maybe Correa won’t build a model democracy, but at least he has cleared the dead wood of a failed system. Now he must prove he has something worthwhile to put in its place.

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