October 4, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Ecuador's democracy in peril

The brash young president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, keeps pushing for a showdown with opposition forces in his bid to remake Ecuador in the image of Venezuela. Last Sunday the people voted for delegates to a rubber stamp "constituent assembly" that Correa hopes will replace the existing Congress. About 3,200 candidates were on the ballot across the country, including a large number of eccentrics and members of fringe groups. Correa claimed a mandate from the elections, and declared his intention to dissolve Congress, which he considers inept, corrupt, and inattentive to the needs of poor people. His candidates seem to have a strong majority so far, but it is uncertain whether he will have the two-thirds supermajority necessary to undertake fundamental changes in the constitution. See BBC. Correa is a well educated man, with a degree in economics, and it is striking that he seems totally unaware of the risks he is taking by unleashing the forces of class resentment while trashing constitutional norms. It's a recipe for chaos and even deeper poverty.