Party Nationalization after the 2013 Ecuadorian Legislative and Presidential Elections
Note: This appears on a March 14, 2013, entry of The Monkey Cage
By Jason Eichorst and John Polga-Hecimovich
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.[i] 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).
This is Correa’s third presidential election, winning in both 2006 and 2009. His first term was cut short in 2009 for early elections after the adoption of the 2008 Constitution. The 2008 Constitution, drafted by members of Alianza PAIS, allows for immediate one-time re-election.[ii] Correa’s 2009 election was the first since the return to democracy in 1979 that a candidate won the presidency without competing in a second-round, exceeding the 50 per cent threshold in the first-round.
The president’s overwhelming support in the election can be credited to a number of factors, including: increased government reserves due to strong oil prices and increased tax revenues; increased social spending and subsequent reduction of poverty and unemployment; increased access to healthcare; and improved infrastructure. However, this should not suggest that the administration has proceeded without conflict. A violent confrontation between Correa and the national police erupted on 30 September 2010 in response to expected benefit cuts. Correa has also faced significant criticism for undercutting democratic institutions (including an unconstitutional reform of the judiciary) and directly challenging freedom of press.
The president is elected using a majority-runoff system. A candidate can by-pass the second round if she wins the first-round with more than 50 per cent of the vote, or between 40 and 50 per cent of the vote with a 10 percentage point margin of victory. The second-round is between the top two candidates, which would have been held on 7 April 2013.
Legislators are elected separately from one national district (15 total seats), 24 provincial districts (116 total seats)[iii], and three "external" districts (6 total seats) using a preferential vote system with seats distributed by party. Candidates run on a party list for each ballot. A voter has as many votes as there are seats. Those votes can be distributed to the entire party-list (en plancha), or redistributed across lists to individual candidates (nominales), as in panachage. A voter does not have to exhaust all of her votes if she decides to select individual candidates. Total party votes combine nominal votes and all of the plancha votes. Seats are distributed from total party votes using D’Hondt formula.
The structure of the legislative electoral system encourages a regionalization of the party system, where parties can be successful in specific provinces and non-existent in others (Pachano 2006). Politicians throughout the country’s history have tended to find support in one region or the other, but rarely in both. Notably, since the return to democracy in 1979 business-friendly conservative parties have been successful in the coast and are less competitive in the sierra or Amazonian lowlands ("Oriente"), while labor- and indigenous-friendly parties have found support in the highland Andean plateau ("sierra").
The geographical extension or limitations of parties can be expressed through the concept of party nationalization, which measures the consistency of party strength across districts. Empirically, we can use vote share support across districts to measure party nationalization. While multiple indices exist (Morgenstern et al. 2011), we use the Standardized Party Nationalization Score (sPNS) developed by Boschsler (2010) to capture the extent of party nationalization for each party. This measure determines the inequality of vote shares across districts, weighted by district size and the total number of electoral districts. This produces a continuous variable between 0 and 1, where a larger number indicates greater static nationalization.
Table 1 shows descriptive statistics for each major party competing in the legislative elections. We show the party ideology (party type), the year the party was established (established), the percent of total votes won (total vote)[iv], total number of provinces where the party competed (prov.), minimum vote percentage (min), maximum vote percentage (max), vote standard deviation (SD), and nationalization (sPNS).
Table. Descriptive statistics from 2013 legislative elections, provincial deputies
As the table makes clear, Alianza PAIS is one of the few parties that has managed to overcome the debilitating coast/Andes regional divide that has historically plagued Ecuadorian politics and cemented itself as a truly national party. This is due in part to the strength of the party’s national policy that appeals to their broad base, as well as Correa’s permanence in power. To begin with, social welfare programs like the Human Development Bond and investments in higher education impact citizens across the country, while the unprecedented rule and reach of the president has allowed his party brand to grow in places, like the Oriente, that did not originally support his movement. Further, PAIS has co-opted other movements on the Left, like the MPD, MUPP-NP, and the PS-FA, forcing them into electoral pacts with the government party or simply poaching their support in their traditional bastions of power.
The party also benefits by merely showing up. In 2013, Alianza PAIS was one of just three parties (including, the populist PRIAN and PSP) to compete for legislative seats in all 34 electoral districts. Yet it earned significant support in even the weakest of these districts. In total, PAIS won more than 50 percent of the party vote in the coastal provinces (Santo Domingo, Manabí, Los Rios, three of four Guayas districts, El Oro), the metropolitan Quito area (three of four Pichincha districts), and abroad (all three foreign districts, including 69 percent of the vote share in "Europe, Asia and Oceania"). It earned its lowest votes shares in the southern Andes and the Oriente, yet still won 17 percent of the vote in its worst performing province of Loja.
PAIS’s strong performance in the coastal provinces shows a further erosion of traditional coastal powers PSC and PRE, and relative newcomer PRIAN (founded in 2002). The PSC, a business-friendly Social Christian party, won only 5 of 20 possible seats in the largest coastal province, Guayas, and only 8% of the total national vote. This is a major loss for a party that has concentrated its resources and energy in this region, and held it along with the PRE and PRIAN since 1982. The PSC did not place candidates in any of the six Oriente provinces, the Galápagos, or three southern Andean provinces in 2013. The PRE performed just as poorly. It failed to earn even 9% of the vote in any province, and like the PSC, ran candidates in only 24 electoral districts, winning just 3% of the national vote for what appears to be a single legislative seat. Meanwhile, perpetual presidential candidate Álvaro Noboa’s PRIAN failed to break 8% of the vote in any district (despite running lists in all 34), earned only 4% of the national vote, and did not win a single Assembly seat.
Interestingly, the comparatively poor showing of PAIS in the more indigenous south-central Andes was not met by gains in the largely indigenous Pachakutik (MUPP-NP) party, which only fielded candidates in three districts. Recent electoral failures have encouraged Pachakutik to form an electoral alliance with other leftists-parties to remain viable in the legislative election. Even that was unsuccessful. However, the PSP maintained its strong showing in the northern Oriente, the home of party leader and ex-president Lucio Gutiérrez. The party competed in all 34 districts, but performed best in the more mestizo and indigenous Andes and Oriente than on the coast.
The closest competitor to Alianza PAIS comes from the right. CREO emerged as the second-largest political force in the country, with an average of 9% of the national legislative vote and 12 legislators (pending confirmation by the CNE). It ran party lists in 29 electoral districts, and represents a new collection of business and conservative forces to oppose Correa’s "Citizens’ Revolution". By doing so, CREO also eats away at the PSC’s traditional support. This is very similar to the way Bolivia’s right-wing coalition emerged to combat Evo Morales’ MAS. The party has ties to Guayaquil and Quito’s chambers of industry and commerce.
In Figure 1 we plot the sPNS over time for five of the largest parties in Ecuador (PAIS, PRE, PRIAN, PSC, PSP). We also include MUPP-NP and ID, two parties with diminishing electoral support in the contemporary period. MUPP-NP was regionally strong in the Indigenous provinces until its decline. ID was a consistent competitor in every election since the 1979 transition to democracy. It was traditionally a coherent social democratic party, but was unable to overcome internal factions to compete in the 2013 election.
Alianza PAIS has shown high territorial homogeneity since its inception. Although the party is still young, it shows a degree of nationalization only achieved by PSC in the early 1990s and the ID in the 1980s, when the latter was the largest competitive center-left party. We see that following historical patterns of caudillismo, where large landholders controlled large regions of the country both politically and economically, parties in Ecuador tend to be regional in their appeals and are only nationally competitive for short periods of time. After only one full electoral cycle, PAIS managed to improve on its nationally competitive position in the 2013 election, rising from about 0.82 to 0.90. Some of the increase in party nationalization for the opposition parties in the 2013 is due to their consistent poor performance across all provinces. It should be interesting to see if the PAIS’s electoral dominance at the national level encourages the opposition to unify behind a coherent national program, or if it will suffer from factionalism and infighting, like the Venezuelan opposition of the 2000s.
Overall, we find that the traditional parties have weakened even in regions of traditional strength. Alianza PAIS has consolidated its support and has consistently competed nationally since its first election. It is, however, to early to determine if this strength is stable without President Correa. The constitution limits a president to two four-year terms. Correa has already publicly expressed his interest to step-down after the end of this term (his second). However, PAIS does have the legislative strength to modify the constitution, which requires a 2/3 legislative vote to ratify a constitutional amendment. Ecuador does not have the types of institutional arrangements that protect the minority from strong, unified control of government. It will be interesting to see if PAIS can maintain its national appeal and strength without Correa leading the presidential ticket.
Bochsler, Daniel. 2010. "Measuring Party Nationalization: A New Gini-Based Indicator that Corrects for the Number of Units." Electoral Studies 29:155-68.
Conaghan, Catherine M. 2012. "Prosecuting Presidents: The Politics within Ecuador's Corruption Cases." Journal of Latin American Studies 44 (04):649-78.
Mejía Acosta, Andrés, and John Polga-Hecimovich. 2011. "Coalition Erosion and Presidential Instability in Ecuador." Latin American Politics and Society 53 (2):87-111.
Morgenstern, Scott, John Polga-Hecimovich, and Peter Siavelis. 2011. "Measuring Party System Nationalization: A Cautionary Tale from Chile." In Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Chicago.
Pachano, Simón. 2006. "Ecuador: Fragmentation and Regionalization of Representation." In The Crisis of Democratic Representation in the Andes, ed. S. Mainwaring, A. M. Bejarano and E. Pizarro. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Pérez-Liñán, Aníbal S. 2007. Crisis Without Breakdown: Presidential Impeachment and the New Political Instability in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[i] Presidential instability has been common in Ecuador since 1996: Abdalá Bucaram (1996-1997) was (unconstitutionally) impeached and replaced by the president of congress; Jamil Mahuad (1998-2000) was similarly removed in a military-indigenous coup led by Col. Lucio Gutiérrez; and as civilian president, Gutiérrez (2003-2f005) was also unconstitutionally impeached (See: Conaghan 2012; Mejía Acosta and Polga-Hecimovich 2011; Pérez-Liñán 2007).
[ii] Correa’s partial term from 2006 to 2009 is not considered to contribute to the total number of terms he can serve.
[iii] Three provinces (Guayas, Manabi, and Pichincha) are further divided into multiple districts. Those districts in addition to the foreign districts result in 34 total electoral districts.
[iv] Total votes for a party are a mixture of list and preference votes, and cannot simply be added to calculate the party vote share. In order to determine party vote share, we borrow from the Swiss Federal Statistical Institute’s concept of the "fictional voter", which is defined as: the number of votes obtained by a given party, multiplied by the number of valid ballots over the number of valid votes. In notational form, this becomes slightly more complicated, since the number of votes obtained by the party requires distributing the list vote over all candidates, and then taking the sum of all the preference votes. For party with candidates in district of m magnitude with voters and total votes is, party strength looks like this:
The mood was somber in my house on Tuesday night and on Wednesday, after hearing of the death of Hugo Chávez. The president had not appeared in public since early December 2012, was fighting cancer and a mysterious respiratory infection, and had lost the ability to speak, yet Venezuelans I know seemed to assume that he would return. His passing even shocked silent the Chigüire Bipolar for a day. In human terms, it was difficult to assimilate the passing of a figure who cast such a large shadow over contemporary Venezuela and who directly or indirectly affected the lives of so many current and future Venezuelans (amazingly, my Venezuelan wife had never voted in a presidential election without him on the ballot). Indeed, for someone who led his country with such conviction and outsized gusto and rhetoric, the circumstances of the comandante’s death were much more eliot (as in t.s.) than Sid Vicious.
Assessing Chávez’s legacy will be the work of generations of social scientists and historians. His tangible legacy is much clearer than the intangible one (as, I suppose, is often the case with all tangibles and intangibles): he leaves an economy in shambles, a bloated and inefficient public bureaucracy, an enormous public debt, and dated infrastructure. Corruption is rampant. Homicide rates are at record highs, and political institutions are weak or non-existent. Despite enjoying record high oil prices over the past dozen years, the country suffers from food shortages on such basic items as meat, sugar, milk, and Harina P.A.N., the corn flour for every Venezuelans' daily arepa. At the official exchange rate, Harina P.A.N. imported from Colombia is cheaper in Washington, D.C. than it is in Caracas. And when my wife and I were married in the Andean state of Táchira in 2011, we arranged for family and friends to arrive via Colombia rather than Venezuela because official exchange rates in Venezuela made the cost prohibitively expensive.
Of course, I probably have Chávez and his friends to thank for my marriage in the first place: Rebeca signed the 2003 petition for the 2004 presidential recall referendum, and her name was subsequently published on the lista Tascón. As with innumerable other Venezuelans, this leaked signature limited the possibility of public sector employment, and she chose instead to seek a Master’s Degree in Ecuador, where I met her. Later, she came to the U.S., where work was more forthcoming. More shockingly, she is one of nine public high school classmates (of 37) who have escaped political or economic conditions in Venezuela to work abroad. I have no doubt that Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution genuinely hoped to sew economic development and social equality while giving voice to the poor. But the lista Tascón incident is representative of a broader pattern of intimidation and politicization of public life that marked Chávez’s tenure—especially after 2002.
It is difficult to discuss Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution without taking sides. The president’s rhetoric was often inflammatory and polarizing, with accusations and conspiratorial plots hurled against enemies, real or perceived. Chávez cultivated enemies like Bush and Uribe, and friends like Putin, Lukashenko, and Ahmadinejad, and his international and domestic role was often that of a dangerous provocateur. It is his leadership (and oil money) that permitted the creation of ALBA and UNASUR. He was, if nothing, consistent across domestic and international in his political intransigence. Of course, this stubbornness was fueled by the often disorganized and uninspired opposition forces, which consistently underestimated the breadth and width of Chávez’s support and foolishly perpetrated a coup d’état with the silent consent of a pliant U.S. in 2002. Any trace of compromise from the government disappeared with this enormous blunder.
H.L. Mencken famously wrote that a demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. As popular elections proved over and over again, Chávez was only a demagogue in the eyes of 40% of Venezuelans; he was a patron and hero to the rest. In January I visited Western Caracas, around the area of Pérez Bonalde and near the neighborhood 23 de enero (where a rally lead by the Communal Council and a PSUV deputy commemorating the fall of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez famously armed young children with Kalashnikovs while flanked by graffiti of an armed Jesus). Leaving the metro, there was a National Electoral Council booth in the station for people to register to vote. Up the stairs, in the light of day, I encountered people scurrying in and out of a Misión Alimentación office with food, a line for free eye exams as a part of Misión Milagro, and hand-written signs for people to enroll to improve their literacy in Misión Robinson. Like so many ringing it, this neighborhood with unfinished buildings and even unpaved roads was being offered basic government services at little or no cost. The political recognition and electoral mobilization of these sectors means that Venezuelan leaders can no longer ignore the poor. In fact, social programs targeted at alleviating poverty have become standard fare for opposition leaders, a much-welcomed addition to party platforms.
Still, Chávez leaves behind a bitterly divided, polarized country. He preached a politics of exclusion, especially after the failed coup of 2002 and with greater gusto after the PDVSA strike of 2002-2003. Under his rule, a violent society grew from bad to worse. According to UNODC Homicide Statistics, Venezuela had the fifth-highest homicide rate in the world in 2010, unmatched by middle-income countries. Sadly, many Venezuelans are numbed to the carjackings, murders, and secuestros express that take place around them. Playing dominos with my brother-in-law and his friends one night, they regaled me their or their families’ experiences of robberies and kidnappings; I was the only one of the bunch without a story. Another high school classmate of Rebeca’s was murdered at an ATM in her hometown, the victim of a robbery. Chávez himself proclaimed to be the center of innumerable assassination attempts, and wore bulletproof clothing constantly, including bulletproof liqui liquis. Perhaps this violence and fear of violent death makes Chávez’s passing at the hand of the insidious but too common cancer even more startling.
What happens now? Well, following the trail blazed by Chávez himself, the government has decided to ignore article 233 of the 1999 Constitution and appoint Vice-President Nicolás Maduro as President instead of Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. There will be elections—maybe in thirty days, maybe more—, and Maduro will win, bolstered by sympathy for Chávez and the promise of continuing his revolution. Unfortunately for Maduro, he will be stuck with cleaning up the mess created by Chávez, the violence, the economic situation, the crumbling infrastructure, without the benefit of Chávez’s charisma, force of personality or iron control over those around him. Things will not change much in the short-term, little-lone overnight. The same people are in power, the lack of institutionality endures, and still 50% of the population supports the PSUV. Chavismo may live on, but it will not remain in power indefinitely. Henrique Capriles’ time will come.
Chávez long expressed that he wanted to be buried in Sabaneta, his family’s hometown in the llano. Forty-eight hours after his official death, while millions mourned his absence, Interim President and successor Maduro has announced instead that the ex-President would be embalmed and displayed "so that the whole world can contemplate it like Ho-Chi Ming, Lenin, and Mao Tse Tung". Chávez would have little right to complain; it is he who handpicked Maduro, Cabello, Elías Jaua, et al., and it is he who is ultimately responsible for creating his own myth. Rather than resting in linda Barinas, tierra llanera, Chávez will no doubt transcend the economic and political turmoil he leaves behind as a symbol for anti-imperialism and the poor. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the majority of Venezuelans.
Rafael Correa begins March 2013 as the longest-lasting president in Ecuadorian history, with a little over six years in power. His victory in the February 17, 2013, national elections guarantees him at least four more years, and opens the possibility of constitutional changes to permit permanent re-election. The president not only won re-election with a resounding 57% of the valid vote, but he defeated his nearest challenger, banker Guillermo Lasso, by a 35-point margin. Furthermore, Correa’s Alianza Patria Altiva I Soberana (Alianza PAIS) party obtained the first legislative majority since the country’s return to democracy in 1979 with 92 of the 137 seats in the unicamerical National Assembly.
Correa’s continuity and success is not an accident, but a byproduct of good fortune, targeted social policies and increased social expenditures, and a weak opposition. However, despite these electoral victories and unprecedented presidential stability, the short-term successes of the administration’s policies presage mixed long-term prospects for the Ecuadorian economy and democratic institutions.
The Economy, Social Spending, and Poverty
Correa’s overwhelming support in the election can be credited to a number of factors, including increased government reserves due to strong oil prices and increased tax revenues; an increase in social spending and increased access to health-care; and a growing economy and improved infrastructure. The GDP has grown steadily since 2007, with a 5.2% increase in 2012 (Figure 1, chart 2). Further, the majority of this growth was outside the hydrocarbon sector, especially construction and aquaculture. Crucially, this growth has not produced inflation. The country closed 2012 with an annual inflation rate of 4.16% (Figure 1, chart 1), within the healthy range established by the Central Bank.
The central government has benefitted during this time from high oil prices, which have remained around $80 a barrel during Correa’s tenure (Figure 1, chart 3). Although petroleum production represents only 12-13% of GDP (Figure 1, chart 1), earnings from the oil sector account for half of the government’s revenue (INEC 2013). However, this revenue collection is not sufficient to cover the doubling of social spending in the country. Part of this difference is being covered by improvements in the internal revenue service (Servicio de Rentas Internas, SRI), which has increased its coverage and effectiveness of tax collection in the country. Discounting seasonality, collected tax revenue has doubled from around US$400 million to US$900 million monthly, as shown by the sustained increase of the tax take in Figure 1, chart 4 ("Yasuní and the future of Ecuadorean oil" 2013).
Notwithstanding the high oil prices and improved tax collection, the fiscal deficit has grown to nearly US$4 billion annually under Correa. To cover these expenditures, the government has signed oil-for-cash agreements with China for nearly US$9 billion at terms worse than those proposed by the demonized International Monetary Fund ("Counting on Chinese credit" 2012). It is precisely this type of deal that augers poorly for the sustainability of the social programs—or the country’s external debt. Finite oil reserves and high interest rates on Chinese loans are even less advantageous to Ecuador than previous loans from foreign lenders that were bemoaned from the government; the country loudly escaped one type of dependency when it defaulted on its foreign debt in 2008, but it has now apparently traded that for a similar dependency on China.
Figure 1. Economic Indicators
Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (INEC) and the Ecuadorian Central Bank
The annual budget has doubled since the start of the Correa administration, increasing from 11 billion dollars in 2006 to over 26 billion dollars in 2012 (INEC 2013). The government has invested heavily in infrastructure and education, and has provided cash-handouts to poor families through the Human Development Bond (BDH). Under this program, poor families with children up to the age of 16 receive a monthly stipend of US$50, accounting for some 1.6 million people (Bono de Desarrollo Humano y Pensiones 2012). The results have been positive. According to the Central Bank, since taking office in 2006, poverty has dropped 10 full percentage points, from 37.6 per cent in December 2006 to 35.09 per cent in December 2008 to 27.3 per cent in December 2012 (Figure 2, chart 1). Inequality has also dropped, as shown in Figure 2, chart 2, from a Gini coefficient of 0.54 to 0.48. Lastly, unemployment has also experienced similar reductions, dropping from 9.03 per cent in January 2007 to 7.31 per cent in December 2008 to 5.04 per cent in December 2012 (Figure 2, chart 3), although this does not factor in underemployment that is common throughout the country.
Figure 2. Socio-economic indicators
Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (INEC) and the Ecuadorian Central Bank
Offsetting many of these socio-economic gains, Correa has faced significant criticism for undercutting democratic institutions and directly challenging freedom of press. Correa pursued libel charges against three directors and a journalist of the Guayaquil daily El Universo after publishing an opinion piece on the policy mutiny that was critical of the president. The three directors were fined US$40 million, and all four were assessed three-years in prison. Correa pursued similar charges against two journalists who wrote a book critical of business negotiations between the president’s brother, Fabricio Correa, and the government. After months of negative international and domestic attention, including criticism from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, President Correa announced in February 2012 that he would drop all charges ("Media battle is part of wider war" 2012; "Meting out punishment" 2012).
Somewhat ironically, Correa granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, on August 16, 2012 ("Ecuador gambles on WikiLeaks founder Assange" 2012; "Ricardo Patiño anuncia que Ecuador concede el asilo a Julian Assange" 2012). The administration publically claimed that this was a principled decision to protect freedom of speech, although it is consistent with an antagonistic foreign policy that is publicly critical of the U.S. and international financial institutions. The administration has also garnered criticism for cultivating diplomatic links with authoritarian regimes, and hosted visits by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Syrian Vice Chancellor. Correa also offered asylum to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in an interview with the Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo in October 2012 (Marreiro 2012).
In 2012, judicial reforms have garnered the most attention for undercutting democratic institutions. In the interest of eliminating judicial corruption, the Correa administration proposed a 3-person committee that would have full authority over a period of 18 months to reform the National Court of Justice. This 3-peson committee replaces the Transitional Judicial Council with the same responsibility as determined by the 2008 Constitution. Critics suggest that the 3-person committee will be populated by loyalists to Correa and his party and that it unconstitutionally replaces a pre-existing institution. This and nine other proposals passed by popular referendum on 7 May 2011. 
Correa and Alianza PAIS’s success in the 2013 elections is an indicator of the president’s widespread popular approval and lack of popular investment in or regard for matters of horizontal accountability or balance-of-powers. Ultimately, for the majority of Ecuadorian voters, economic voting took precedence over the more abstract matter of democratic accountability (Lewis-Beck 1988; Powell and Whitten 1993). The increase in social spending, education, and health care are the most relevant yardsticks of government performance for most of the population. However, the deficit of democratic institutions and increasing monetary and petroleum obligations to China will inevitably catch up to Ecuador.
Further, there is no political force on the horizon that appears capable of restricting the president’s power or offering a legitimate counterpoint to Alianza PAIS. Much like Venezuela in its first decade under Hugó Chávez, the fragmented and debilitated opposition forces have not managed to unite around a common proposal, ideology or political strategy. Until they coalesce around a common front, President Correa will continue to mold the Ecuadorian state as he wants, with certain socioeconomic and infrastructure gains, but at the cost of political pluralism and dialogue, and institutional independence.
This spells institutional change for Ecuador, with a deepening of the president’s Citizen’s Revolution and an increase in the concentration of state power in the executive. The real prize for Correa in all of this is his supermajority in the assembly, which allows him a range of legislative possibilities in the 2013-2017 period. For example, although the president publicly denied the possibility of changing the constitution to permit indefinite president re-election—a measure taken by ideological allies Chávez and Daniel Ortega—it would be unwise to discard this possibility. In an interview regarding this topic after the elections, Correa responded by threatening that, “if these mediocre members of the partyocracy and press keep bothering me, I’ll run for re-election so these sufferers suffer” ("Rafael Correa: 'si siguen molestando me lanzo a la reelección'" 2013). By then, it will be clearer if the short-term economic gains are indeed sustainable in the long-run.
 This surpasses Isidro Ayora who ruled as dictator for five years (1926-1931).
 The value of the bond was previously US$35, but political one-upmanship drove it to US$50. Speaking in the coastal city of Portoviejo in September 2012, presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso suggested proposed eliminating the government department of propaganda and using the recovered finances to fund this increase in the BDH (Pilco 2012). Not to be outdone, Correa responded by cutting out Lasso’s figurative feet from under him, proposing an identical increase and, as an added twist, financing the raise through further taxes on the banking sector. This raise took effect through Presidential Decree 8/2013, issued on January 2, 2013.
 Poverty is considered to include those who live below US$2.54 a day.
 In November 2012, Correa also appointed his ex-personal secretary, Gustavo Jalkh, as the new president of the Consejo de la Judicatura (Judiciary Council), the state organ charged with assigning judges across the country.
 Textually, Correa said: “si siguen molestando estos mediocres de la partidocracia y de los medios de comunicación me les lanzo a la reeleción, para que sufran los sufridores”.
Bono de Desarrollo Humano y Pensiones. 2013. (10 diciembre 2012). Trámites Ecuador 2012 [cited 28 febrero 2013 2013]. Available from http://tramitesecuador.com/ministerio-de-inclusion-economica-y-social-mies/bono-de-desarrollo-humano/.
"Counting on Chinese credit." 2012. Latin American Regional Report (LARR), Febrero 2012, 12.
"Ecuador gambles on WikiLeaks founder Assange." 2012. Washington Post, 20/08/2012.
INEC. P.I.B. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censo (INEC) 2013 [cited 28 febrero 2013. Available from http://www.ecuadorencifras.com/cifras-inec/pib.html#tpi=371.
Lewis-Beck, Michael S. 1988. Economics and Elections: The Major Western Democracies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Marreiro, Flávia. 2012. "Equador avaliará eventual pedido de asilo de governo Assad, diz Rafael Correa." Folha de São Paulo, 10/12/2012.
"Media battle is part of wider war." 2012. Latin American Regional Report (LARR), Febrero 2012, 10-1.
"Meting out punishment." 2012. Latin American Regional Report (LARR), Abril 2012, 7.
Pilco, Carolina. 2012. "Guillermo Lasso ofreció aumentar el bono a USD 50." El Comercio, 29/09/2012.
Powell, G. Bingham, Jr., and Guy D. Whitten. 1993. "A Cross-National Analysis of Economic Voting: Taking Account of the Political Context." American Journal of Political Science 37 (2):391-414.
"Rafael Correa: 'si siguen molestando me lanzo a la reelección'." 2013. La Hora, 23 febrero 2013.
"Ricardo Patiño anuncia que Ecuador concede el asilo a Julian Assange." 2012. El Comercio, 16/08/2012.
"Yasuní and the future of Ecuadorean oil." 2013. Latin American Weekly Report (LAWR), 31 enero 2013, 5.
Political scientist, Latin Americanist, Minnesota Twins fan, World's #1 dad