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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08QUITO30 2008-01-09 17:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Quito
Cable title:  

ECUADOR: ASSEMBLY AND CORREA DECLINE IN POLLS

Tags:   PGOV EC 
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INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 7227
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000030 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR: ASSEMBLY AND CORREA DECLINE IN POLLS

REF: 07 QUITO 2622

Classified By: DCM Jefferson Brown for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (SBU) Summary: With more than a month's work under its
belt and little progress thus far, public opinion polls are
showing a sharp decline in the Constituent Assembly's
popularity. Though still widely popular, on the eve of his
first anniversary in office, President Correa's approval
numbers have weakened as well. Nonetheless, a majority of
Ecuadorians still support the Assembly's decision to suspend
congress and seem willing to give the Constituent Assembly
its allotted time to produce the promised reforms.

REALITY CHECK


--------------------------





2. (SBU) To welcome the new year most major Ecuadorian
polling organizations conducted polls focused on the
performance of the Constituent Assembly and the Correa
administration. According to a December 23 Cedatos/Gallup
poll, only 43 percent of respondents gave the Constituent
Assembly a favorable rating, compared with 62 percent on
November 30. Additionally, only 39 percent of respondents
said that they consider assembly members statements credible,
compared to 57% in November. The Constituent Assembly fared
a bit better in an Opinion Profiles, Inc. survey conducted on
December 19. 57.6 percent of respondents said that the
Assembly was performing well or very well.



3. (SBU) President Correa has not been immune from
declining polling numbers either. A poll released by
Teleamazonas on January 4 shows that his approval rating now
stands at 64 percent, a noticeable drop from the 82 percent
he enjoyed on November 28 on the eve of the Constituent
Assembly's inauguration Hugo Barber, a pollster with
Opinion Profiles commented on January 4 that it is not yet
clear how much of the decline is due to specific incidents
like the demonstrations in Orellana province (reftel), and
how much has to do with impatience regarding the Constituent
Assembly process.



4. (SBU) Some polls went beyond questions of popularity of
the Constituent Assembly and President Correa and measured
public opinion thematically. A Market, Inc. poll released
January 2 found that pluralities disapproved of the GOE's
performance in several key areas. 46 percent of respondents
felt that the government was not doing enough to create jobs,
though 43 percent felt that the government was handling the
economy well overall. 41 percent responded negatively to the
government's fight against corruption, one of President
Correa's major initiatives. Overall pessimism remains, with
60 percent of respondents believing that politicians do not
tell the truth.

EXPERTS WEIGH IN


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Ecuador's talking heads wasted no time before
interpreting the polling data. In a widely-viewed television
interview on January 4, respected political strategist and
pollster Jaime Duran observed that the Constituent Assembly's
dropping poll numbers are due to three factors: the enormous
expectations of the populace, the fact that the Assembly
raised taxes, and the confrontations the Constituent Assembly
has had with municipal leaders and mayors, who remain
popular. Commentators also note that the announcement by
Maria Paula Romo, Vice President of the Assembly's
Legislative and Oversight Committee, that the articles of the
new constitution would be debated during the last six weeks
of the Assembly's session raised questions amongst the public
as to what Assembly members are actually doing. Though Romo
likely meant that the Assembly plenary would only vote on
articles toward the end of the Assembly's mandate, the
impression left with the public was not positive.

COMMENT


--------------------------





6. (C) Though the public is showing some signs of
frustration with the Constituent Assembly, these numbers must
be kept in context. With only one month of deliberations
completed, and with expectations so high, it is not
surprising that the Assembly's popularity has suffered, in a
country that has demonstrated little political patience in
recent years and never gives its leaders much time to deliver
on promises. If their accomplishments begin to stack up the
numbers will no doubt begin to rise. However, because the
Constituent Assembly has assumed legislative authority for
the country, its members do run the risk of garnering the
same very low approval ratings associated in recent years
with the Congress. 75.8 percent of respondents in the
December 19 Opinion Profiles poll agreed with the Constituent
Assembly's decision to suspend Congress, and clearly do not
want it to become simply a new version of that discredited
institution. Continued focus on passing short-term
legislation, rather than working on the permanent
constitution will only exacerbate this perception amongst the
public.



7. (C) While Correa's numbers have suffered to some degree,
he still is viewed favorably by a comfortable majority of
Ecuadorians, though his popularity is inextricably tied to
the Assembly's. A plurality of those polled by Market, Inc.
(39 percent) favor immediate presidential re-election for the
president at the end of his term - an indication they are
still pleased with Correa. What is clear, is that the
honeymoon for the Assembly is fading and the public expects
results, sooner rather than later.
JEWELL