Chavistas on the March

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A month ago, it looked like allies of Hugo Chavez were suiting up for a long spell in the political doldrums. AMLO lost the Mexican presidential election; Humala blew the Peruvian election; polls were showing erosion in Chavez's own support. Most strikingly, Ecuadorian leftist Rafael Correa saw a big poll lead erode and lost the first round of the country's presidential election to Alvaro Noboa, a banana tycoon (seriously) and relatively free market politician. It looked like a vocal Chavez ally who won't pay Ecuador's debt might go down.

Eh, no such luck.

Leftist Rafael Correa is set for victory in Ecuador's presidential election.

With nearly 20% of ballots counted, Mr Correa has gained around 66% of the vote while Alvaro Noboa polled about 34%, according to election officials.

Mr Correa promised radical change—he opposes a free trade deal with the US and has promised to close a United States military base in Ecuador.

Mr Noboa has not yet accepted defeat, with full results due on Tuesday.

The preliminary count from Ecuador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal is even more in favour of Mr Correa than the exit polls, which indicated he had won 57% of the vote.

The blustering about killing trade deals might not matter as much with a Democratic Congress that wasn't itching to approve trade deals anyway. But expect to hear more about this, especially after Chavez wins re-election this weekend.

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  1. These countries just can’t win. They get a right-winger who talks the talk, then most of the benefits/gains of a free market are lost in corruption. Then the leftists come in and establish a regime less austere to the peasant but one that ends up shrinking the economy while corruption goes on unabated. The net result is that the people are worse off, and go back to the right wing extreme the next election. It’s an angry oval.

  2. Sorry, forgot to close the link tag.

  3. His opposition had a hell of a rally this weekend, despite Chavez blocking all of the roads into Caracas. (For unrelated reasons, of course.)

  4. You got it wrong. Correa won the first round, and Noboa ended up in second place.

    And Matt Yglesias is wrong, Noboa didn’t lost because he is a banana-mogul, or because people thought he was a U.S. puppet (I live in Ecuador, and nobody brought that up at all, not even Correa). Noboa lost because he is a horrible semi reptiloid being with the charisma of a bag of HIV infected needles and dead rats that even die hard Christians thought he was being ridiculous every time he pulled out the bible and started quoting. I believe in free markets, and I believe in capitalism, and even then I voted for Noboa in the second round simply because he was the only alternative to Chavez’ pawn.

  5. lamar pretty much nailed it.

    my grandfather-in-law voted for noboa BECAUSE he was ecuador’s richest man. his theory was that noboa had so much money he wouldn’t need to steal from government coffers. this rather naive theory was very common (tho evidently not common enough).

    everyone votes against the incumbent (or just kicks him out of office) because of corruption, then gets exactly the same corruption just with a different political flavor. when there is no incumbent, they either vote based on regionalism (“corruption” usually means “they” are getting the loot that “we” should be getting), or on unverifiable (and seldom correct) guesses as to who will be least corrupt.

    for what it’s worth, noboa is not exactly the champion of free minds and free markets that he is sometimes made out to be. he’s a religious nut who got to where he is mostly thru connections with corrupt politicians. the lesser of two evils, perhaps, but definitely an evil.

    anyway, i think i’ll wander over to tradesports and see if they’re taking bets on how long correa stays in power.

    -cab

  6. cab: even leftists admit that the handful of rich folk in Lula’s government in Brazil are pretty honest compared to the lifelong activists who finally got their hands on the cookie jar. It’s a common belief because it’s often true. Rich ex-businessmen prefer the subtle “honest graft” technique of insider trading to actually writing checks to yourself from the Ministry’s account.

    As for not paying down Ecuador’s debt, well, more power to them. Not only would it make it easier to balance the budget and thus reduce taxes, but it will ensure that no one loans money to them again. And this is a good thing. These loans are purely political on the lender’s end, and used for political purposes on the borrower’s end. They do not lead to a better economy any more than Stevens’ bridge to nowhere would. If Ecuador actually broke the dismal cycle of aid, debt, and dependency, all of Correa’s other faults would be worth enduring.

    And before anyone says the obvious, I assert firmly that the “people of Ecuador” don’t owe a dime. They didn’t sign for the loans and never saw a penny of them. For all practical purposes, the loans are unsecured personal notes to the guy in the president’s office. The new president can refuse them any time he wants to. That principle, if adopted, would make lenders much more cautious about the projects they’re funding, and make for a decidedly cleaner lending and contracting process.

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