Bolivia’s socialist candidate Luis Arce is set to win the country’s presidential election as indicated by an unofficial rapid count of the votes of the election held on October 18. According to the count, Arce has 52.4 per cent of valid votes and his centrist rival Carlos Mesa has 31.5 per cent. This would bring the left-wing party of Evo Morales back into power. So what does this election mean for Bolivia and for Morales?
Background to the election
The chaotic October 2019 election led to the resignation and exile of left- wing president Evo Morales who came into power in 2006 and governed the nation since then. On November 12, 2019, conservative Senator Jeanine Anez took over as interim president and promised the country that a re-run of the October 2019 elections would be conducted. The elections were initially set to be conducted on May 3, 2020 and then on September 6, 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic they were postponed and conducted on October 18, 2020.
Eva Morales in this election
Morales has been an iconic figure not only in Bolivia but in Latin America as he is part of the wave of leftist presidents of the region. But this will be the first time since 2002 that Morales has not fought the election himself as he is in exile in Argentina after the 2019 polls. He has supported Luis Arce unequivocally through media interviews and social media campaigns. If Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (Mas) party’s presidential pick Arce wins the election, it would ensure Morales’ return to Bolivia.
How is the world looking at the elections in Bolivia?
A victory for Morales’ party Mas and his imminent return would be welcomed by left wing presidents of Cuba, Venenzuela and Nicaragua who have been long term allies of Bolivia. However, the election is being dimly viewed by the US as Morales has been a lifelong critic of US’ “imperialism”.
As official results are awaited, if no candidate succeeds in obtaining more than 50 per cent of the votes or 40 per cent votes with a 10-point lead over the nearest challenger, a run-off between the two top contenders will be held on November 29.