* Two private polls show "Yes" vote wins referendum
* Opponents fear president amassing excessive power
(Adds analysis, context, poll details)
By Eduardo Garcia and Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, May 7 Ecuador's President Rafael Correa
hailed victory on Saturday after two polls showed him winning a
referendum on judicial and media reforms that opponents say are
a power grab threatening the Andean nation's democracy.
"We've won by more than 20 points," said Correa. "The
Ecuadorean people have triumphed, the truth has triumphed."
If confirmed by the election authority, the result would
strengthen the popular but domineering Correa's political
standing in the South American OPEC member and put him in a
strong position for a re-election bid in 2013.
A private tracking poll by Cedatos-Gallop showed an average
of 57 percent of voters backing all 10 questions on a
referendum that was essentially a vote of confidence on the
flamboyant Correa, 48, who has governed since 2007.
An exit poll by Santiago Perez Investigacion y Estudios
showed more than 60 percent said "Yes" to all questions.
"We're really happy!" Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told
Reuters. Official results were due later on Saturday.
Full coverage of Ecuador's referendum [ID:nECUADOR]
Q+A-What is the referendum about? [ID:nN137741]
Political risks in Ecuador [ID:nRISKEC]
Factbox on Ecuador and Correa [ID:nN27176839]
Correa has maintained high popularity among the poor and
lower-middle classes thanks to big spending on schools, roads
and hospitals. Rivals accuse him of an autocratic streak akin
to his ally Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, and fear
he could use the reforms to persecute opponents.
"We're giving Correa too much power, but it doesn't matter.
Someone has to tidy up this mess," said "Yes" voter Cesar
Acosta, 67, echoing Correa's original justification for the
vote to root out graft and inefficiency in courts.
The most controversial two proposals set the foundations
for a new justice system in which Correa will have more direct
say over appointments. He argues that corrupt judges have to go
so police can better fight crime, a huge concern for the South
American nation's 14 million people.
"Correa will have the ability to restructure the court
system and essentially hand-pick judges ... (which) will
further concentrate power in the executive and limit checks,"
political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group said.
Other reforms include more controls on media, with whom
Correa has been dueling regularly, and a ban on bullfights.
As he voted, Correa -- the strongest leader in decades in a
country notorious for political instability -- bristled at
claims he was taking Ecuador down an autocratic route.
"They've been saying it's totalitarian ... (a word) used
for a state in which things are done by force. We're doing this
democratically," he said.
Ecuadoreans seemed to have voted en masse, especially since
those who did not vote face a fine of about $25. Local TV
showed voters walking through muddy roads in the Amazon area,
wearing indigenous outfits in an Andean province and lining up
in front of polling stations in the Galapagos Islands.
Opposition leaders say Correa is amassing too much power.
"I think he's tired of the constitution," former presidential
aide turned critic Alberto Acosta told Reuters.
The charismatic and voluble Correa forms part of a regional
alliance of leftist Latin American presidents that includes
Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.
They are fervent critics of U.S. "imperialism" and have
sought to boost state revenues from their country's energy
resources to spend on social projects.
RETHINK FOR RIVALS
If their defeat is confirmed in the referendum, Correa's
bruised rivals may be forced to rethink their strategy and
possibly rally behind a united leader ahead of 2013.
Correa is likely to feel emboldened, but his victory will
also fuel criticism he wants to install communist-style rule in
Ecuador, and that could cost him support among educated voters
in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador's biggest urban areas.
Victory should allow Correa to rein in dissent in the
ruling Alianza Pais movement, which could help his chances of
getting legislation approved.
Analysts do not expect Correa to change his policies toward
oil and mining investors after such a sweeping victory.
"In the oil sector, the government has already extracted
significant benefits under its new contracts. ... (It) will
offer mining companies relatively generous terms in its initial
contracts in order to attract foreign investment to help
develop the nascent mining sector," Eurasia Group said.
Correa's tough stance toward the media has fueled fears
that two reforms aimed at limiting media ownership and holding
journalists "responsible" for their stories will let him
silence criticism of his policies.
(Additional reporting by Jose Llangari and Santiago Silva;
Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Peter Cooney and Todd Eastham)