[JURIST] The Ecuador Congress [official government website] voted Tuesday to hold a referendum on whether Ecuador should form a constitutional assembly to rewrite its constitution [text, in Spanish]. The vote is seen as a victory for the reform agenda of President Rafael Correa [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile], who wants to change the constitution to restrain powerful political parties [JURIST report], increase government accountability, and hold regional, rather than national, elections. Critics, however, fear that Correa will use the assembly to expand presidential power. The referendum will be held on April 15. AP has more.
A self-described member of the "Christian left" and founder of the Alianza PAIS party [party website, in Spanish], Correa aligned himself with the Ecuadorian Socialist Party [party website, in Spanish] during last year's elections to overhaul the nation's economy to fight 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]. In November, Morales' Movement Towards Socialism party [party website] began the final stages of making populist reforms part of an amended Bolivian constitution [JURIST report].