A year ago Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, was riding high after winning a third term in a landslide election. Some say his party, Alianza País, got too used to winning. This week, Correa was looking more subdued after the opposition won the country’s key mayoralties – Guayaquil, Cuenca and, most painfully, the capital Quito – in Sunday’s local elections. The result is a setback for Correa’s “citizen’s revolution” and its aim of increasing the role of the state in the economy, as it means he can no longer count on the support of heavyweight mayoralties. Correa called the results “painful” and said losing Quito was “very sad and dangerous” and could make Ecuador “ungovernable”. The fiery president even drew parallels with Venezuela, an ally that has seen a wave of street protests in recent weeks, saying some members of the opposition were “counting the days for the government to fall.”
He followed that on Wednesday by asking for the resignation of his cabinet, saying “oxygenation” was necessary. Although he insisted the move was planned before the elections, analysts say Alianza País is showing signs of internal fractures.
Commentators say key changes could come in the ministry of non-renewable natural resources, a crucial ministry in the smallest of the Opec nations, which produces about 520,000 barrels of oil a day.
Nevertheless, and despite the electoral blow, the opposition is fragmented and Correa remains the country’s leading political figure. According to Tatiana Larrea, a pollster at CEES, a consultancy in Quito, the president has approval ratings of more than 70 per cent in the three cities where his party lost on Sunday.