November 30, 2006
Leftist candidate Rafael Correa easily won the second round presidential election in Ecuador, with a two-to-one margin over the wealthy conservative populist Alvaro Noboa. Correa has promised sweeping reforms, but he would need a majority in congress, which is fractured among several political parties, making compromise extremely difficult. He dismisses the country's political establishment as a "partidocracia," alienating the very people whose support he needs. See CNN.com. Correa's derisive attitude toward political parties is perhaps understandable given Ecuador's history, but anyone familiar with how politics works know that the only alternative is a direct democracy based on mass mobilization, in which minority interests would get trampled upon. If Correa is serious about his agenda, he must be contemplating some kind of emergency decree powers along the lines of other presidents in Latin American countries, such as Peru's Fujimori or Venezuela's Chavez. From what I've seen of him, I just don't think he is up to it.
It is worth noting that only four years ago, the Ecuadoran people elected another political outsider who promised radical reforms: retired Col. Luis Gutierrez. To the surprise of many people, he become moderate and pragmatic after his inauguration, and built friendly ties with the United States. This turnabout was one of the main reasons why the people turned against him and forced him out of office in April 2005.
As preparations for tomorrow's inauguration of Felipe Calderon are finalized, leftist opposition legislators have registered their protest of alleged electoral fraud by shutting down Congress. The have camped out in the legislative chambers, vowing to prevent the swearing-in ceremony from taking place in the traditional site. The fierce rejectionist attitude of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, in spite of the lack of any significant support from international election monitoring organizations, is a truly frightening gesture that undermines democracy in Mexico. See CNN.com.