Ecuador’s Success as a leftist government (opinion)

Posted on February 14, 2017 • Filed under: Ecuador, Politics

It doesn’t fit with neoliberal orthodoxy, but President Rafael Correa has made remarkable progress. Will the next government sustain it?
By Mark Weisbrot (Opinion)

 In a shift supported and welcomed in Washington, Latin America has been moving to the right in the last year or so. Three of South America’s largest economies—Brazil, Argentina, and Peru—now have right-wing presidents with close ties to Washington and its foreign policy. The standard “Washington Consensus” narrative, while ignoring any US role in the region, sees the left governments that were elected in South America over the past couple decades as having ridden a commodities boom to populist victories, with handouts to the poor and unsustainable spending. When that boom collapsed, the story goes, so did the finances of left governments and therefore their political fortunes.

But this is a highly exaggerated and self-serving narrative. Ecuador is a good example of how a left government achieved success over the past decade through positive and creative changes in economic policy, as well as financial, institutional, and regulatory reform.

The details are also worth looking at because Ecuador’s experience shows that much of the rhetoric about how “globalization” restricts the choices of governments to those that please international investors is also exaggerated. It turns out that even a relatively small, middle-income developing country can adopt workable alternative policy options—if people can elect a government that is independent and responsible enough to use them.

Ecuador has cut poverty by 38 percent, increased spending on education and healthcare, and raised per capita income.


The results for the decade of left government in Ecuador (2007-16) include a 38 percent reduction in poverty and a 47 percent reduction in extreme poverty. Social spending as a percentage of GDP doubled, including large increases in spending on education and healthcare. Educational enrollment increased sharply for ages 17 and under, and spending on higher education as a percent of GDP became the highest in Latin America. Average annual growth of income per capita was much higher than in the prior 26 years (1.5 versus 0.6 percent), and inequality was considerably reduced.

Public investment as a percent of GDP more than doubled, and the results were widely appreciated in new roads, hospitals, schools, and access to electricity. Read Article

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