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The Economist – Ecuador’s president: Smile turns to frown

“IN THE three years since he came to office, Rafael Correa has promised that his “Christian socialism” will provide Ecuadoreans with the good life where “neoliberalism” failed. A big increase in social spending, paid for at first by a high oil price and then by defaulting on debt, brought Mr Correa popular acclaim. He steered through a new constitution and last year had himself re-elected under it. He seemed to be defying his country’s recent history, in which the previous three elected presidents had failed to complete their terms.

But Ecuador’s mood is changing. Mr Correa’s approval rating fell from 72% to 42% in the year to November, according to Cedatos, a pollster. It also reported that this year his was the most popular figure to be burned in firecracker-filled effigy at traditional New Year’s Eve bonfires. His government has launched a campaign for positive thinking called “Smile, Ecuador”, but nowadays the mercurial Mr Correa is given to perennial frowning and cryptic warnings of impending coup attempts. “The way he’s going, he won’t last till the end of his term” in 2013, says Fabricio Correa, the president’s elder brother, who has become a bitter foe after denying accusations of corruption.”
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