[JURIST] Ecuadorian President-elect Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile] renewed his pledge to redraft the nation's constitution [text, in Spanish] in a speech in Quito Sunday. Correa, an economist who will take office Monday, declared that his first act as president will be to call a referendum to form a constitutional assembly to be charged with making "profound" socialist economic changes. Other proposals for the constitution aim to increase government accountability, including replacing congressional elections with regional rather than national votes and allowing recalls for all elected positions. Critics fear that Correa will use the assembly to expand presidential power.
A self-described member of the "Christian left" and founder of the Alianza PAIS party, Correa aligned himself with the Ecuadorian Socialist Party [party website, in Spanish] during last year's elections with the common goal of overhauling the nation's economy to aid the more than 60% of the population living in poverty. Correa is the most recent example of South America's shift to the left, already manifested in the administrations of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales [JURIST news archive], both of whom joined Correa at his Sunday speech. In November Morales' Movement Towards Socialism party [party website] began the final stages of adopting populist reforms into an amended Bolivian constitution [JURIST report]. Though in the past he has emphasized that his presidency will be distinctly independent from his allies in the region, Correa remarked Sunday that "a sovereign, dignified, just and socialist Latin America is beginning to rise." AP has more.