Ecuador's Correa to seek re-election, clear favorite

Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:46pm EST
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By Eduardo Garcia

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa launched his re-election bid on Saturday for a February vote likely to give him a new four-year term to continue boosting state control over the Andean nation's economy.

Government spending on roads, hospitals and schools has made the 49-year-old U.S.-educated economist very popular with the poor majority, and he is well ahead of rivals in opinion polls.

The opposition is divided and lacks a charismatic leader.

Victory in the February 17 vote would give the socialist Correa a mandate for rolling out more reforms to increase state revenues from the oil and mining sectors. But dependency on oil exports in OPEC's smallest member is his Achilles heel, and he may be forced to reduce state spending should oil prices fall.

"We've done a lot but there's a lot more to be done, to turn this bourgeois state into a truly popular state that would serve everyone, especially the poor ... that's why we accept this nomination," Correa said in front of thousands of supporters after the ruling Alianza Pais coalition endorsed his candidacy at a raucous meeting in a Quito football stadium.

"We've got a president, we've got Rafael," chanted his supporters, many of whom were wearing neon-green shirts, the color of the party.

In power since 2007 and a member of a Latin American leftist bloc led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Correa has given the state a key role in a small economy very dependent on oil and bananas.

Casting his movement as a "Citizens' Revolution," Correa has viciously battled political adversaries whom he disparages as an elite that monopolized power for decades.   Continued...

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa addresses the media during a news conference in Quito October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Granja