Voters expected to back new constitution in Ecuador

Voters are expected to easily approve Ecuador’s 20th constitution tomorrow, expanding President Rafael Correa’s powers and letting the pugnacious leftist run for two more consecutive terms.

The US and European-trained economist has staked everything on the constitutional rewrite that, while far from radical compared to similar projects in Venezuela and Bolivia, would let Mr Correa firmly elbow aside what remains of a badly splintered, discredited opposition.

“This election is between two worlds, two systems, two completely different notions of economic development,” the fiery-tongued Mr Correa told a crowd of 8,000 attending his final pre-referendum rally in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

He promised a “yes” vote would bring “rapid, profound change”.

Approval would automatically lead to presidential, congressional and local elections early next year, and an overhaul of the nation’s judiciary in which Mr Correa is expected to play a decisive role.

The Central Bank and other key institutions would also cede or lose autonomy.

Opinion surveys indicate Mr Correa will win comfortably, though about one in five voters was undecided.

“What we’re going to have with this constitution is a concentration of power in the executive and very few checks and balances,” said political scientist Adrian Bonilla.

Already, he said, Mr Correa wields “more power than any other president in modern times”.

Mr Correa, 45, is bent on demolishing a traditionally corrupt political class and distributing wealth more equitably.

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