A majority of Ecuadorians support President Rafael Correa's proposal to amend the Constitution and change the country's one house legislative branch, according go a Cedatos/Gallup opinion poll released this week.
The poll shows an overwhelming support of 78%, with only 11% against, in favor of electing a Constituent Assembly with full powers, a first step to redesign Ecuador's institutions that have proved particularly unstable in the last two decades and "protect" a political establishment overwhelmingly discredited. Correa, a former US educated finance minister, ran for president as an independent outsider under the Alliance Country (AP) banner. In November 2006, Correa defeated Álvaro Noboa of the Institutional Renewal Party of National Action (PRIAN) in a run-off with 56.69% of the vote and was inaugurated January 15 but with no legislative support since his party nominated no candidates to the National Congress. In his inauguration speech, Correa expressed his support for changing existing legislation, declaring, "The historical moment of the nation and the whole continent demands a new constitution that prepares the country for the 21st century." A first referendum is scheduled to take place on Mar. 18. In this ballot, the people will be asked if they want the country's constitution to be re-written. If a majority votes in favor of forming a Constitutional Assembly, a second voteÃÂ¢€"where Ecuadorians will elect the members of this legislative bodyÃÂ¢€"will take place within eight days. Correa has also promised to reschedule Ecuador's foreign debt and dedicate more funds to combat poverty; extract higher windfall taxes from oil companies operating in the country, (Ecuador's main export) and has also announced he will not renew the contract of an air base operated by United States. A team of Argentine experts in renegotiating debts will help Ecuador in dealings with international banks and Venezuela has promised to purchase Ecuadorian sovereign bonds while negotiations are on and to anticipate "fiscal shortages".