Despite a rising wave of protest against his government, President Rafael Correa remains far ahead of potential challengers and his overall popularity rating stands at just under 50%.
A Cedatos-Gallup Poll released on June 19, just as protests were building against Correa’s proposed inheritance and capital gains tax increases, showed him with a 46% approval rating, one of the lowest of his presidency but still one of the highest in Latin America. A “flash poll” taken June 27 and 28, after he had withdrawn the tax increase proposals, shows his popularity rising to 49%.
Another poll last week conducted by San Franciscco University of potential presidential contenders, show Correa beating Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas 53% to 18% and Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot 54% to 15%.
“It’s not even close,” say political analyst Carlos Fernandez. “I thought that Rodas would be more competitive but he’s not in any of the polls that I’ve seen, and Nebot and (Guillermo) Lasso are even farther behind. Given their low numbers now, just after the big protests, it’s hard to imagine any of them gaining strength in the near term,” Fernandez said.
Lasso, who has opposed Correa twice and lost badly on both occasions, has already said he will run again for president in 2017.
It remains uncertain whether Correa will seek another term if a constitutional amendment is passed by either the National Assembly or public referendum. The courts will decide if the Assembly can approve the amendment or whether it will need to go to national vote. Lasso is a leader of a drive to force a national vote on the question.
Despite Correa’s popularity, polls show Ecuadorians overwhelmingly want a chance to vote on the term extension amendment.
According to Fernandez, Correa has deep grass-roots support. “Even voters who disagree with the tax proposals are grateful to Correa for bringing a period of stability to the country, and for building roads and hospitals and expanding public services,” he says. “Some of his oppoenents believe he can be forced from office by massive demonstrations, like those that happened last week, but I think they are wrong.”