Who Will Win Bolivia’s Elections?

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Above Photo: From Resumen-english.org

At this point in the year, Bolivia should be announcing an election date other than the presidential election in May. According to last year’s schedule, the regional elections (departments and municipalities) were scheduled to take place in the second half of this month. However, the interruption of the democratic order altered absolutely everything that was planned, and we are now less than two months away from deciding who will be the next president of Bolivia.

This is a totally anomalous election for many reasons first they arrive under the management of an unelected government; they are very close to the previous election (October 20, 2019); the one who was the country’s main vote getter in  the last 15 years is not being allowed to compete(Evo Morales was even banned from running for senator); many institutions (MIT, CEPR, CELAG) have demonstrated through investigation that there was no fraud, contrary to what the OAS stated without producing any evidence;  there are very few democratic guarantees due to the high degree of judicial persecution against leaders of the previous government and  Bolivia is involved in a serious institutional and political crisis.

After all the social earthquakes that have taken place recently in Bolivia, it is essential to know and identify how the common senses of the citizenry have been re-arranged at all levels, from the ideological, economic subjectivities and, of course,  everyday concerns.

Here are some characteristic features of today’s Bolivia based on a survey carried out by the Center for Geopolitics in Latin America (CELAG) sample size of 2,000 in-person interviews throughout the country in both rural and urban locations.

Once again we see something that no coup d’état can achieve; make the country’s main political force disappear in one stroke. The candidate for MAS, Luis Arce, is preferred to of 33.1%, of the voters while Jeanine Añez is far behind with 20.5%. They are followed by Carlos Mesa (17.4%) and Fernando Camacho (7.4%). It is still too early to know if this difference will allow Arce to win in the first round that requires over 40% with a difference of 10 over the second place candidate.  It is not for sure put this is the electoral support that Arce now enjoys.

Arce still has room to gain more votes. His electoral ceiling is close to 40%. But we must bear in mind that the level of lack of information is very high (almost 25%), and therefore he still has a lot of room for improvement in terms of voting intentions. Arce has the advantage of having a very positive image as Minister of Economy (54.8%), and also, in comparative terms, the Bolivian population sees him as having a greater capacity to govern and a greater commitment than his rivals.

In turn, Añez  is considered the strongest competitor to Arce. The current de facto president does not have as much voting intention (20.5%) as potential voters (40%). Her electoral ceiling is twice as high as her voting intention. And the only reason is simple; she becomes the probable channel of the useful vote against Evo. This was the political phenomenon that marked the previous election and caused the spirit of the second round to slip through the first. And this time the big question is whether the Mesa-friendly voters will be willing to support Añez . However, Añez also has her weaknesses; almost two thirds (64.6%) believe that she should not run for president and, more than half (54.4%) believe that she will commit fraud in the next election.

In Bolivia, there is a great negative feeling of anguish and anger about several problems. For example violence against women (80.4%), potential devaluation of its currency (68.5%), fear of losing jobs (63.3%). Furthermore, 82.6% believe that racism still exists and that this should be overcome, 85.5% believe that social bonds are necessary and only 31.1% think that privatizations improve the functioning of the economy.

These are clear examples that demonstrate that the process of change in Bolivia did not happen in vain, and these common senses are still strong in the collective imagination. That makes the electoral landscape more favorable for Arce than for the rest.  But as we have seen in the past months, anything can happen in this next election; before, during and also after.