Ecuador: Lawmakers Vote to End Presidential Term Limit | Associated Press

The National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment Thursday to lift Ecuador’s presidential term limits as violent street protests escalated against what many demonstrators deemed a power grab by President Rafael Correa. Part of a package of amendments, the measure will permit the leftist Correa to run for the office indefinitely beginning in 2021. His current term ends in 2017 and he has said he does not intend to run at that time. Analysts have called Correa’s decision a shrewd political move considering Ecuador’s current economic woes.

Ecuador: Electoral blow sparks changes in Ecuador but Correa still firmly in charge | Financial Times

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.”

Voting Blogs: Party Nationalization after the 2013 Ecuadorian Legislative and Presidential Election | The Monkey Cage

On Friday, 8 March, the Ecuadorian National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) released the final voting results for the legislative and presidential elections held on 17 February. These results verify the dominance of the government party, Alianza Patria Altiva I Soberana (Alianza PAIS), and hint at a realignment of the party system. Riding the coattails of the popular incumbent president Rafael Correa, Alianza PAIS has transcended the historical tendency towards regionalization of the country’s parties through a strong performance across the country’s 34 electoral districts. This election marks an important milestone for democracy in Ecuador. President Correa is completing the first full term for an Ecuadorian president since Sixto Durán Ballén (1992-1996), and his time in office surpasses that of Isidro Ayora (1926-1931), making him the longest-serving president in the country’s history.[1] His current mandate terminates on 10 August 2013. As expected, Correa easily won re-election in the first-round with 57% of the valid vote, and Alianza PAIS won a 92-seat majority in the 137-member unicameral legislative assembly (seat distribution is still being decided by the National Electoral Council, pending a ruling on potential voter fraud in the province of Guayas).

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa wins new term | BBC News

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term with more than 50% of the vote. His main challenger has admitted defeat. Addressing his supporters in the capital, Quito, Mr Correa called for “another four years of revolution”. First elected in 2007, the socialist leader is widely credited with bringing political stability to a nation that suffered decades of protests and coups. But critics accuse Mr Correa of being a dictator in the making. The 49-year-old US-trained economist has been accused of implementing policies that have served to strengthen his hold on power and erode the influence of political opponents and private media. But his so-called “citizens’ revolution” has made him popular with many ordinary Ecuadoreans and has won him friends among other Latin American left-wing leaders.

Ecuador: Once a hacker Kevin Mitnick Now Helps Secure Ecuador Presidential Elections |

Kevin Mitnick, who was one of the most wanted computer hacker in the US at one time, is now heading a security consultancy firm – Mitnick Security Consulting, and is entrusted with the task of securing Sunday’s presidential elections in Ecuador. Sunday may very well see Rafael Correa win the presidential elections in Ecuador provided nothing goes wrong and Mitnick does the job perfectly which has been assigned to him. Mitnick tweeted, “18 years ago I was busted for hacking. I do the same thing today but with full authorization. How cool is that?” Mitnick has been assigned to protect the Net Lock computer system that has been assigned the task of tabulating Ecuador’s elections.

Ecuador: On eve of elections in Ecuador, legal fears hold back in-depth coverage | Knight Center for Journalism

A few days before the presidential and parliamentarian elections in Ecuador, which will take place on Feb. 17, fears of lawsuits and other legal liabilities are holding back journalistic coverage. According to a report by non-profit Fundamedios, which analyzed the content of 10 newspapers between Jan. 4 and 20, there have been almost no opinion, context and analysis pieces written during the campaigns season. In contrast, plain informative stories represented more than 90 percent of their content. The main protagonists were not the candidates, but the National Electoral Council, which is mentioned in 43 percent of the stories. Some journalists and freedom of expression experts believe several news outlets are trying to avoid legal problems under Ecuador’s Code of Democracy — the country’s electoral law. In January 2012, using the Code, President and re-election candidate Rafael Correa succeeded in pushing through the National Assembly new restrictions on the news coverage of the elections. The most controversial one was article 203, which called media outlets to “abstain from promoting directly or indirectly” any candidate through special reports or any other way.

Ecuador: Electoral law dulls reporting as Correa nears re-election | Committee to Protect Journalists

It’s by far the dullest space in the newspaper: Every day in El Universo, Ecuador’s leading daily, readers can find eight small photos and news blurbs summing up the activities of the eight presidential candidates. The articles are the same size and blocked together in a layout that resembles a tic-tac-toe game, minus the ninth square. This drab coverage is one result of reforms to the electoral law that took effect in February 2012, which prohibit biased reporting on electoral campaigns and allows candidates to sue reporters and news outlets who allegedly violate the law. To avoid lawsuits, El Universo’s editors have set aside an inside page of the newspaper devoting equal space to everyone from the frontrunner–President Rafael Correa, who is seeking a third term–to fringe candidates. That may sound like fair and balanced reporting, but it’s also shallow. Journalists and press analysts told CPJ that the electoral law has made it far more difficult to pursue aggressive, investigative reporting ahead of the February 17 presidential and legislative elections.

Editorials: Ecuador’s election: The man with the mighty microphone | The Economist

New highways and motorways snake across Ecuador, lined with billboards reminding drivers how bad the Andean country’s potholed road network was until Rafael Correa was first elected as president six years ago. The towns and villages boast new schools and health clinics. The minimum wage has risen well above inflation, and some 2m poorer people (in a population of 14.5m) get monthly cash transfers. Free school uniforms and subsidised mortgages all help to give ordinary Ecuadoreans the sense that “most things are being done right,” says Pili Troya, a civil servant, who plans to vote to give Mr Correa another four-year term in the country’s general election on February 17th. In his campaign advertisements Mr Correa, a good-looking, smooth-tongued 49-year-old economist, presents himself as the man who turned his country round, after several years of political instability and economic humiliation, which included the collapse of the currency and its replacement by the American dollar in 2000. He rails against the IMF, bankers and privatisations. “Ecuador is no longer for sale,” he cries. “The country of despair has become one of hope”.

Ecuador: Committee to Protect Journalists: Ecuadoran journalists besieged as Correa nears re-election | Huffington Post

One result of President Rafael Correa’s high-profile campaign to demonize the country’s private media can be seen on the desk of José Velásquez, news manager at Teleamazonas, a private Quito television station often critical of the government. Among the documents piled high on his desk are lawsuits, which used to be a rare thing. Encouraged by Correa who has personally sued newspapers and journalists, Velásquez says, the subjects of Teleamazonas news reports are now filing between two and five lawsuits per month against the station. “Because the president is so aggressive with journalists, it empowers a lot of people,” Velásquez says. “Correa says we are incompetent and corrupt. So, now the average Joe in the street says: ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, you are corrupt so I am going to sue you too.’”

Ecuador: President taking leave in re-election bid | Ventura County Star

Ecuador’s Congress voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to grant President Rafael Correa a monthlong leave of absence while he campaigns to be the first Ecuadorean leader in more than a century to hold the presidency for more than a single term. The South American nation limited its presidents to single terms in the 20th century until the charter was changed in 2008 to allow re-election, a move that benefited the populist Correa. Correa said handing his job over to Vice President Lenin Moreno starting Jan. 15 shows how far he’s willing to go to support democracy and avoid abusing his presidential powers ahead of the Feb. 17 vote. “I don’t have to do it, but I prefer to avoid any suspicion,” Correa told Congress.

Venezuela: Elections: The Stakes Are High | Fox News

Venezuelans are heading to the polls in what is considered one of Latin America’s most important elections in years. After 14 years in power, the polarizing and controversial socialist President Hugo Chávez faces his toughest challenger yet — the center-right candidate Henrique Capriles. When Chávez came to power in 1999 he was the first a wave of left-wing Latin America leaders known as the “Pink Tide” to gain high political office in the region.

Ecuador: In Ecuador, reforms restrict election coverage for media | Committee to Protect Journalists

Reforms to Ecuador’s electoral law that will take effect on February 4 could hamper the ability of the country’s journalists to cover political campaigns and elections, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The government of President Rafael Correa, who is expected to seek re-election next year, promoted the legislation, which was passed on January 10, to reform the country’s electoral law. However, press freedom groups told CPJ that the new legislation included broadly worded provisions that could result in vast censorship. Under the reforms, “almost any reporting that is published or transmitted during an electoral campaign” could be considered illegal, the Quito-based media group the Ecuadoran Journalists Forum, said in a communiqué.