(Reuters) – Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa cruised to a re-election victory on Sunday as voters ignored a sputtering economy to make the charismatic socialist the OPEC nation’s most powerful leader in a generation.
Correa won 51 percent of the vote and had a 20 point lead over his nearest rival, a quick count authorized by electoral authorities showed. He is the first president to avoid a run-off election since Ecuador returned to democracy in 1979.
Supporters packed Correa’s party headquarters in Quito waving green flags and shouting “Just one round, Ecuador.”
“This revolution is on the march, and nobody and nothing can stop us,” the 46-year-old president said in his home town of Guayaquil. “The people … have given us the most splendorous victory of probably the last 50 years.”
He vowed to protect the poor from the global financial crisis in his second, four-year term and said Ecuador’s economy, which depends heavily on oil exports and is the world’s largest banana exporter, was healthier than most.