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Bolivia — Evo Morales wins comfortable victory

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 National elections: first results

Evo Morales won around 60% of the vote in general elections on Sunday 12 October, his third consecutive major victory at the national level.  Tendencies that have emerged over recent years have been strengthened, with departments that were previously strongly in the opposition camp voting for Morales.  Note that results are based mainly on exit polls, since the Plurinational Electoral Body had released practically no results as of Monday 13.                             

Some preliminary comments

  • Evo Morales and his policies are still supported by almost two-thirds of the population.

  • Support for the MAS in the highlands and valleys has either remained the same or fallen slightly (though still maintaining high levels), whilst in the eastern lowlands its support has increased.

  • Samuel Doria Medina of Unidad Demócrata has emerged as an important opposition figure, achieving 24-25% of the vote, up from less than 6% in 2009.

  • Tuto Quiroga has shown he is still a relevant political figure, whilst Juan del Granado has suffered a humiliating blow, coming last even in his supposed stronghold of La Paz. The MSM that he represents has shown that it cannot achieve a national profile. 

  • Fernando Vargas, leader in the TIPNIS dispute, did poorly in the Beni and Cochabamba, departments in which the TIPNIS is located, but did comparatively well in La Paz, where the TIPNIS question was particularly high profile. 

Voting in Sunday’s election   Credit: telesurtv.net

 

Patterns of voting: 2005, 2009 and 2014

In December 2005, Morales and the MAS achieved 53.74% of the vote at national level.  The vote for Evo was strongest in the western part of the country, whilst in the east and south (Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando) the opposition (Podemos, under the leadership of former president Jorge ‘Tuto’ Quiroga) came first.  This pointed to the differences between the two parts of the country, with an assertive opposition in the eastern half, giving rise to the notion of the ‘media luna’ , a country split in two.  This division was to escalate into outright conflict in August-September 2008.  Following the failure of this bid for power by the leaders of the media luna, the main opposition to Morales fell apart.

In December 2009, the first vote under the new constitution and the establishment of the Plurinational State, Evo won 64.22% of the vote.  This time Morales and the MAS won the elections in the same highland and valley strongholds, but also for the first time in Tarija.

Breakdown of votes: 2014

Initial results for the elections on 12 October (on the basis of exit polls) show Evo Morales winning around 60% of the vote, as follows:

Party
Source: IPSOS/ATB/La Razón
Source: Mori/El Deber results
Movimiento al Socialismo – MAS
59.7%
61%
Unidad Democrática – UD
25.1
24
Partido Demócrata Cristiano – PDC
9.6
9
Movimiento Sin Miedo – MSM
2.9
3
Partido Verde de Bolivia – PVB
2.7
3

The vote on a departmental basis shows the MAS winning in all departments except the Beni:

Department
MAS
UD
PDC
MSM
PVB
National
61%
24%
9%
3%
3%
La Paz
70
14
7
4
5
Santa Cruz
49
38
9
2
2
Cochabamba
66
20
9
3
2
Oruro
65
14
12
5
4
Potosí
66
21
7
3
3
Chuquisaca
66
21
7
3
3
Tarija
52
26
19
2
1
Beni
43
49
5
2
1
Pando
53
39
5
2
1
Source: El Deber

By comparing the percentages achieved by the MAS with those of December 2009, the voting tendencies over time become more apparent (approx. figures in both cases).

Department
2009
2014
National
64
61
La Paz
78.5
70
Santa Cruz
40.1
49
Cochabamba
67.6
66
Oruro
77.3
65
Potosí
74.9
66
Chuquisaca
53.1
66
Tarija
48.6
52
Beni
37
43
Pando
45.4
53

The MAS vote has thus strengthened in “non-traditional” departments such as Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando, whilst it has weakened somewhat in the areas seen as party strongholds, such as La Paz, Oruro and Potosí.  In no case, however, did the vote in these departments fall beneath 65%.

Referring to the results of the elections, Evo Morales talked of the media luna having become the luna llena (the full moon), with the east-west divide largely resolved.  

The new Legislative Assembly

At the start of the new government in 2009, the MAS had an important two-thirds majority in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly with 26 out of the 36 senators and 88 of the 130 deputies.  In the present elections it is not entirely clear how the final results will affect parliamentary seats.  Initially it would appear that the results will be similar, with the MAS winning some 25 Senate seats and 86 in the Chamber of Deputies.

Under the voting system in Bolivia, a person may switch their vote for the presidential candidate (and party-slate members of parliament or plurinominales) between one party and a candidate from another party as his/her local MP (uninominal).  The extent of ‘cross-voting’ is not yet clear, but it would seem, on the basis of preliminary estimates, that this happened in 26 out of the 63 constituencies.

Although the MAS presence in the new Assembly may be strong numerically, most of the seats will be occupied by new faces; Carlos Romero, ex minister of defence and Gabriela Montaño, ex head of the Senate are two figures who are likely to have a high profile (in the Senate and Deputies respectively).  Several future opposition members will have had previous experience in the legislature.

One point to watch will be the presence of women, whether in the Senate or in the House of Deputies, given the drive to get the principle of equal representation accepted.