October 13, 2006
Voters in Ecuador will go to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president. The leading candidate is Rafael Correa, a left=wing populist who vows to "do away with the lying oligarchy." Not surprisingly, he is accused of having close ties to Hugo Chavez, and his rhetoric sounds like that of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico. Most observers doubt that he will get a majority of votes, however, so there will probably be a second round next month. The campaign has been boisterous and full of sharp rhetoric, indicative of the deep social tensions in Ecuador over the last decade. See BBC.
The last man to be elected president of Ecuador, retired Col. Lucio Gutierrez, was in effect forced to resign by a mass uprising led by Indian organizations in April 2005. After a period of chaos, an interim government set up a framework to return the country to a normal constitutional order. Ecuador is plagued by a very weak political party system, and the large number of parties is confusing to voters, while making it very hard to get a majority to pass legislation in Congress.