By Brian Ellsworth
QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa easily won re-election in Sunday's presidential vote, according to two private exit polls, providing a timely boost for Latin America's alliance of socialist leaders.
Correa won 61 percent of the vote compared with 21 percent for former banker Guillermo Lasso, the strongest showing of the seven opposition candidates in the race, according to a survey by polling firm Opinion Publica.
A separate exit poll by the firm Cedatos showed Correa winning 59 percent of the vote versus 20 percent for Lasso.
The electoral authority was expected to release an official quick-count by 7:00 p.m. EST (0000 GMT) based on 30 percent of the votes cast.
Correa, a pugnacious U.S.-trained economist, wants to continue boosting the state's role in the OPEC nation's economy and strengthening the leftist ALBA bloc of Latin American nations that openly oppose the United States.
The only Ecuadorean president in the past 20 years to complete a full term in office, Correa is admired for bringing political stability to a nation where leaders had been frequently toppled by violent street protests or military coups.
Opposition leaders call Correa a dictator in the making who is quashing free speech through hostile confrontation with media and squelching free enterprise through heavy taxation and constant regulatory changes.
His success hinged in part on high oil prices that allowed for hefty government spending, including providing cash handouts to 2 million people, and spurred solid economic growth.
(Additional reporting by Jose Llangari and Eduardo Garcia in Quito and Yuri Garcia in Guayaquil; Editing by Kieran Murray and Eric Beech)
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