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QUITO | Leftist Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa scored a major political victory, with voters approving a raft of controversial proposals in a referendum, early returns and private exit polls showed Sunday.

The proposals included measures bolstering Mr. Correa’s power to regulate the country’s judiciary and news media, among them aims to amend the constitution to restrict investment in local media.

The referendum also sought to authorize a council to regulate violent, sexually explicit and potentially discriminatory content.

Journalists have expressed outrage about the proposals, which would hold them criminally responsible for such violations. Other critics characterize the action as a veiled attempt to muzzle dissent.