Sunday, November 26, 2006

I really can't take much more of this

Ecuador goes to the polls tomorrow. And yes, it's another neck-and-neck battle between (drumroll...) an absurdly wealthy neoliberal and a populist ally of Hugo Chavez. Could the world please offer me an election that does not conform to this fucking pattern?

The Beeb sez:

Insults traded

Ecuador is in a delicate state, says the BBC's correspondent Daniel Schweimler in Ecuador's capital Quito.

The country is becoming increasingly polarised, says our correspondent, people are disillusioned with its politicians and are impatient for change.

Three presidents in the past ten years have been forced from office by angry crowds.

Only three presidents since 1979 have served full terms.

In October's first-round vote, Mr Correa said the count was fraudulent and that he had won a clear victory.

Mr Noboa, Ecuador's richest man, said Mr Correa's campaign had been financed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"Correa wants an insurrection, a civil war in which the poor will die," said Mr Noboa.

He has already made two unsuccessful runs for the presidency, in 1998 and 2002.

He has accused his opponent of wanting to install a communist dictatorship and drive Ecuador into the camp of Venezuela's anti-American President Chavez.

Mr Noboa made his fortune in bananas and has promised to bring foreign investment to Ecuador. He frequently campaigned carrying a bible.

Mr Correa has said he would maintain good relations with the United States despite having called President George W Bush a "dimwit".

He has said he wants to renegotiate contracts with foreign oil companies and has threatened to reduce payments on Ecuador's foreign debt.

At his final rally, Mr Correa urged his supporters to follow the vehicles transporting ballot boxes to make sure votes were not tampered with.

"Watch out for alterations of results, ballot box switching; ensure there is no vote-buying."

An election win for Mr Noboa, he warned, would turn Ecuador into the banana magnate's "estate."

Gosh, that sure is an even-sided insult swap. The leftist says his opponent will turn the country into his own personal industry. He then takes a crack at George W. Bush's intelligence (oooh, dangerous!). The conservative says that Ecuadorians will be killed when Correa issues in a Communist dictatorship. Playing the national security card? Why, it's almost like America!

This pattern pops up everywhere. We saw it in AMLO vs. Calderon in Mexico. In Bachelet vs. Pinera in Chile. In Ortega vs. Montealegre in Nicaragua. In Morales vs. Quiroga in Bolivia. In many cases (Noboa, Pinera), the conservative is one of the wealthiest citizens, if not the wealthiest, of his country. The leftist usually struggles to fit him- or herself into the appropriate place on the "friends of Hugo Chavez" spectrum. They also usually win. That's a pretty fascinating fact about South America: despite the fact that many of these countries are in severe financial straits, they are willing to take chances on candidates who are totally different and whose elections basically amount to a complete overhaul of policy. Well, good luck to whoever wins tomorrow's election in Ecuador. "
Three presidents in the past ten years have been forced from office by angry crowds."


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