Quito (Ecuador): Ecuadoreans cast ballots on Sunday with President Rafael Correa, a dynamic, polemical economist, highly favoured to win a second re-election. His leftist government has won broad backing from the lower classes as it leads Latin America in social spending as a portion of the economy.
Correa`s leading opponent, former Banco de Guayaquil executive president Guillermo Lasso, trailed Correa in pre-election polls by more than 20 points in the field of eight candidates.
Correa, 48, has brought uncharacteristic political stability to an oil-exporting nation of 14.6 million people that cycled through seven presidents in the decade before he first took office in 2007.
He won re-election in April 2009 after voters approved a constitutional rewrite that mandated a new ballot, and he would be legally barred from running again following a victory today.
To avoid a run-off, Correa needed a simple majority or 40 percent of the vote plus a 10-point margin over the No 2 vote-getter.
Correa, a graduate of the University of Illinois-Champaign, focused his campaign on increasing tax revenue and social services. Lasso promised to be friendlier to foreign investment, lower taxes on job-creating companies and roll back elements of what Correa calls his "21st century socialism," such as a 5 percent tax on capital removed from Ecuador.