Several days ago Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa easily won reelection in the first round partly thanks to the number of expats who overwhelmingly voted for him.
Much like he did among the Ecuadorian electorate, Correa had little trouble beating his rivals in several Spanish cities. According to figures from the Ecuadorian embassy in Spain, Correa won between 75 and 80% of the vote in Madrid while at least four out of every five voters in Valencia voted for him.
In Barcelona Correa received the backing of 9300 of the 13,200 expats who participated in Sunday’s election. The second-most popular option was not another candidate but votes counted as null (966) followed by opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso and business magnate Álvaro Noboa (639).
Approximately half of eligible Ecuadorian voters in Spain went to the ballots even. Ambassador Aminta Buenaño praised the “great enthusiasm” among the electorate in Spain that led to a 50% voter turnout. (Voting is obligatory in Ecuador though it’s voluntary outside of the South American country.)
Expats in Madrid waited on lines nearly two kilometers long to go vote while hundreds of others were turned away. Buenaño claimed that officials were overwhelmed by large numbers of voters who decided to head to the polls at the last minute.
Since taking office in 2007, Correa has sought to improve relations with his countrymen living abroad. In March 2012, for instance, Correa held one of his weekly televised town hall meetings with Ecuadorians in the Spanish city of Murcia. In addition, Ecuador extended health benefits to expats who are uninsured; thus, aiding those living in Spain whose insurance was under danger due to deep spending cuts enacted by Mariano Rajoy’s government.
Spain’s economic downturn has hit Latin immigrant migrants hard including those from Ecuador. It’s a reality acknowledged by Correa who last November said that he would “await them with open arms” should they wish to return. Several thousand have apparently taken up his offer according to EcuadorTimes.net:
According to the latest data released by the National Statistics Institute (INE), the foreign population in Spain fell in 2012. This is the first drop in fifteen years.
Ecuadorians are the largest group of foreigners who decided to leave Spain the past 2012, with 52,536 citizens who returned home, followed by 26,831 Colombians and Bolivians 13,062.Long lines were also reported in voting centers in the New York metropolitan area where the Ecuadorian consul for New York estimated that at least 10,000 of the roughly 20,000 eligible voters went to the polls.
Update: Foreign Relations Minister Enrique Patiño praised the massive participation of Ecuadorian voters abroad and thanked their support of Correa's "citizens' revolution."
On Wednesday, Correa said that he would seek several amendments to the Ecuador's constitution and push for "whatever reforms need to be done."
The most recent version of the country's Magna Carta was approved in 2008 and went into effect in Correa's first full year in the presidency.
Voting rights for Ecuadorian expats are explicitly mentioned in the constitution of 2008 and also expanded to include voting for offices besides the president and vice president.
Video Source– YouTube via user NewSportsNet
Online Sources – Univision.com, Bloomberg, La Opinion, EcuadorTimes.net, El Comercio, The Argentina Independent, publico.es, Prensa Latina, AS/COA Online, El Diario