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Ecuador leader headed to easy re-election

“This victory is yours,’’ Rafael Correa told supporters.

“This victory is yours,’’ Rafael Correa told supporters.

QUITO, Ecuador — Rafael Correa was easily elected to a third term as Ecuador’s president Sunday, topping his nearest challenger by nearly 40 percentage points, according to an exit poll and partial results.

Correa, a dynamic but polemical leftist economist, has raised living standards for the lower classes and widened their social safety net but has been criticized as intolerant of dissent.

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His top opponent out of a field of eight candidates was former Banco de Guayaquil executive president Guillermo Lasso. The exit poll by the company Cedatos-Gallup showed Correa beating Lasso 61 percent to 20 percent.

Lasso conceded shortly after polls closed.

A beaming Correa appeared on state TV hugging jubilant supporters at the Carondelet presidential palace less than an hour after polls closed. He addressed a cheering crowd from its balcony.

‘‘This victory is yours. It belongs to our families, to our wife, to our friends, our neighbors, the entire nation,’’ Correa said.

The 48-year-old president has brought uncharacteristic political stability to this oil-exporting nation of 14.6 million people that cycled through seven presidents in the decade before he first took office in 2007.

He won reelection in 2009 after voters approved a constitutional rewrite that mandated a new ballot, and he would be legally barred from running again after a victory Sunday.

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