Ecuador Correa set for easy re-election win- polls

Mon Apr 6, 2009 8:09pm BST

* Correa has between 49-52 pct backing for re-election

* Correa's heavy public spending has kept him popular

* Opposition complains that Correa's has unfair advantage

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO, April 6 (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa will easily win re-election on April 26, two major polls said on Monday, as his heavy spending on the poor keeps him popular in the OPEC-member nation.

Pollsters say Correa's allies will also clinch a majority in the legislature, which will strengthen the socialist hold on power in the politically volatile nation.

Correa has between 49 percent and 52 percent of support for the April 26 general election, which will allow him to win in the first round, pollsters Cedatos-Gallup and Santiago Perez said. Correa's closest rivals remain in the low teens.

The president needs at least 40 percent of the valid votes to win in the first round.

Even as the economy starts to slow due to low oil prices, Correa is highly popular for his spending on health and education after years of neglect. His pledges to fight a political old-guard has helped him gain support in a country that has seen three presidents toppled in over a decade.

The charismatic 46-year-old has scored a string of political wins since he took office in 2007 that has allowed him to rewrite the constitution and tighten his control over the economy and state institutions.

Opposition politicians say Correa is playing dirty by tapping state funds to promote his government.

"The president's support has remained constant. It seems the fight is more between second and third place," said Polibio Cordova, the head pollster of Cedatos-Gallup.

Correa's support rose one point to 49 percent in the poll from last week. The survey of 2,824 people across the country had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

Cedatos said 31 percent of Ecuadoreans remain undecided.

Santiago Perez's weekend poll showed Correa has 52 percent of voters' support. Perez, who usually works with the government, has been accurate in past elections results.

(Writing by by Alonso Soto; editing by Vicki Allen)