A LEGENDARY Ecuadorean leader, José María Velasco, once declared “give me a balcony and I will become president”. He did, five times, only to be overthrown by the army on four occasions. Rafael Correa, who resembles Mr Velasco in his histrionic populism, clearly hopes that his decision on August 16th to grant Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks website, asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London—and the use of its balcony to address his supporters (pictured)—will boost his chances of winning another term at an election due in February. The affair has certainly granted Mr Correa a rare moment of global celebrity. But whether it will redound to his long-term advantage is not clear.