Runaway leader Correa claims Ecuadorean presidential win | News | DW | 18.02.2013
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Runaway leader Correa claims Ecuadorean presidential win

President Rafael Correa has claimed victory and a third term as president in the country's elections. Results are not yet final, but partial tallies indicate an insurmountable advantage for the left-leaning incumbent.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa (2nd L) joined by his vice president Jorge Glass addresses his supporters from a balcony of Carondelet Palace in Quito February 17, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Gary Granja)

Correa feiert Wahlsieg in Ecuador

Rafael Correa proclaimed outright victory in the first round of Ecuador's presidential election late on Sunday, predicting that there would be no need for a runoff vote.

"The victory belongs to each one of you," Correa said from the balcony of the presidential palace in the capital Quito. "Nobody can stop this revolution."

Partial official results gave Correa 56.7 percent of the vote compared to 24.7 percent for Guillermo Lasso. Moments after these early results were released, Lasso conceded defeat and congratulated Correa on winning re-election.

Under Ecuadorean election rules, a candidate needs either an outright majority or more than 40 percent of the vote and at least a 10-percent advantage over the nearest challenger to directly secure the presidency without a second round.

Correa had urged the country's 11.7 million registered voters to turn out in force when casting his own ballot at a school in Quito earlier in the day, saying it was up to them to "elect our future."

Advocate of '21st century socialism'

Correa is a US-educated PhD economist, one of the left-wing leaders shaping Latin American politics in recent years. His closest challenger, Lasso, is a conservative former bank executive.

A self-declared foe of neo-liberal economics, Correa has won favor among Ecuador's poor with social programs while tackling big business and the privately owned media with more stringent regulation. He barred his ministers from talking with opposition newspapers, claiming that they backed a police revolt in 2010.

Correa also renegotiated terms with foreign oil companies operating within the OPEC member state, requiring them to pay more to the government. He also nationalized the country's central bank.

The incumbent president's most notable international action in recent years was granting asylum to the founder of the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. Assange is still in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, under constant police supervision since he entered last June - an operation that Scotland Yard estimates to have cost a total of 2.9 million pounds (3.36 million euros, $4.5 million). Authorities want to extradite him to Sweden on sexual assault charges which he denies.

Ecuador's vice presidency and 137 seats in the single chamber Congress were also up for grabs in Sunday's election. Correa's Allianza Pais party was expected to boost its share of parliamentary seats from around 42 percent to an absolute majority - though these results are not expected for several days.

msh/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)