President Correa, Again?
July 10, 2014, Cuenca, Ecuador: As Correa serves his second term as Ecuadorian president, proposed constitutional amendments would remove term limits, allowing him to run again.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
The possibility that Ecuador's Rafael Correa may seek another presidential term is getting strong reaction not only from politicians and the media, but from Ecuador's growing community of English-speaking foreign residents as well.
Although Correa, who is serving his second full term as president, has not committed to running again, he supports a constitutional amendment that would remove term limits and give him the option. The amendment, along with several others, was submitted to the country's constitutional court last week by the president of the National Assembly. If the court finds no problems with the wording, the amendments will be voted on by the assembly where they are almost certain to pass. Correa's Alianza País party has the super majority necessary to change the constitution.
Most political commentators take Correa at his word that he would prefer to leave office at the end of the current term, in 2017, no matter what the constitution says. He has said on a number of occasions that he and his Belgian-born wife plan to move to their home near Brussels, where he plans to join the faculty of a local university. The pundits say that, if a strong presidential contender from Correa's País party emerges, he will step aside.
On the other hand, Correa is well-known for his over-sized ego and a sense of personal indispensableness. If a suitable replacement capable of winning the general election does not come forward, and if he sees a serious threat to his legacy, observers feel sure he will toss his sombrero into the ring again.
An indication that Correa is serious about finding a credible replacement is the fact that he supports another constitutional amendment that would lower the presidential-eligibility age from 35 to 30. Many believe it is intended to allow assembly president Gabriela Rivadeneira to run for president if Correa does not. Rivadeneira is 30 and is viewed by some as Correa's heir apparent.
Although he continues to be one of Latin America's most popular presidents, registering an approval rating in the mid-70% range in opinion polls, he and his supporters were shocked by the results of local elections in February when Alianza País candidates were defeated in key municipal and provincial elections. The mayorships of Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca, the country's three largest cities, are now in the hands of opposition leaders. It was only after those election setbacks that the term limit amendment idea gained traction.
Although opinions among Ecuadorians about whether Correa should seek another term are, understandably, divided along political lines, feelings among the country's expats are more complicated. Even expats who consider themselves conservative give the left-wing Correa high marks and are ambivalent on the question of another term.