President Correa is famous abroad for protecting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But for Ecuadorean voters, Correa's personality may be decisive, writes a guest blogger.
• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa announced he is running for reelection. His approval is above 50 percent in nearly every poll. He will face a large group of opposition candidates, none of whom have particularly strong support among voters.
There are three issues that matter in this election:
1) The Economy: Ecuador's economy is not great, but recent growth has been good enough to get President Correa reelected.
2) Citizen Security: The perception of security on the streets of Ecuador's major cities has gotten worse in recent years due to organized crime and youth gangs. The country is far from a security crisis as is experienced in Central America and Venezuela, but security is a top issue on voters' minds.
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3) Personality: Correa retains support because his style remains well liked by many voters. The opposition candidates vary from charismatic but relatively unknown to completely despised by a majority of voters. The candidate who challenges Correa needs to have a likeable personality and some political charm to counter the president's advantage on this issue.
At the moment, Correa has an advantage on the economy and personality [fronts[. The security problems aren't bad enough to push voters away and no opposition candidate is yet making a credible claim to do better. For Correa to lose this election, something about one or more of those three points must change significantly (an economic crash, a security crisis, or a major change in the perception of the president's and/or opposition candidates' personal likeability). If those three points in February look like they do today, Correa is nearly certain to win.
I already see international journalists focusing on lots of things that don't matter to voters. Ecuador's voters aren't going to vote for or against the president's reelection based on Correa's media restrictions and war against the media barons, his abuse of the court system, his oil policies, his support for Assange, corruption, the country's debt to China or its alliance with Venezuela. Those other topics may matter to the international audience and are more entertaining to discuss than the basic fundamentals (economy, security, personality), but they aren't moving votes.
– James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.