Correa Leads Ecuador Vote With Spending Pledge Amid Deficit

Rafael Correa, who would be Ecuador’s first president re-elected since 1968, leads early voting counts of today’s balloting after promising to boost spending on the poor amid the worst budget deficit on record.

Preliminary voting tallies show Correa will win another four-year term with 57 percent of the vote, the National Electoral Council said today. Opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso, the former chief executive officer of the South American nation’s second-biggest publicly-traded bank, Banco de Guayaquil SA, is in second place with 24 percent of the vote, according to the agency. Final vote counts will be released in the coming days, the agency said.

Correa would begin a new term with few options to finance his campaign pledges as stagnant oil prices and slumping growth limit funds to boost outlays on popular social welfare programs. The self-described socialist revolutionary, who dubbed foreign bondholders “true monsters” when he defaulted on $3.2 billion of debt in 2008, may now return to overseas credit markets to take advantage of a record rally in high-yield debt to help fund spending needed to sustain an economic expansion.

“I don’t see very simple solutions today to attract more investment,” said Carlos Andres Baca, an analyst at the Quito-based economic and political consulting company Politik. “It won’t be easy to find new financing.”

As the head of a nation where about one in three of its 15.4 million citizens live in poverty, the former economics professor has promised to “radicalize” his “citizens’ revolution” with free education and health care.

“This victory belongs to each of you,” Correa said today from the presidential palace in Quito. “No one and nothing is stopping this revolution friends, we are making history.”

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