Filed under: Latin America, Politics | Tags: Bolivia, Evo Morales, MAS, Media Luna, Referendum
As expected, Evo Morales has easily won the recall referendum. Early results estimate that Morales received more than 61% of the vote, above the 54% which he received in the 2005 election. While these results, which are not surprising one bit, strengthen Morales, they also indicate that the opposition state governors also received high support. This means that the political stalemate is sure to continue, as both sides have now been strengthened and will continue to fight. As always, McClathcy offers the best and objective analysis of the situation and all that has surrounded this tumultuous day in Bolivia.
LA PAZ, Bolivia – President Evo Morales scored a split victory in a national referendum Sunday when Bolivians voted to keep him in office but also ratified governors who are his implacable foes, according to television exit polls.
The result will mean continued division along political and geographic lines over Morales’ efforts to push through Socialist policies meant to give greater political and economic power to the indigenous majority, analysts said.
“The polarization will continue,” former President Carlos Mesa said in an interview. “So will the radical policies by both sides. Neither side has enough power to make the changes it wants on its own.”
Morales emerged from Sunday’s plebiscite with a strengthened hand after winning 60 percent of the overall vote, according to ATB television station. Morales received overwhelming majorities in Bolivia’s western Andean states.
In the expectations game, the 60 percent result would reinvigorate the president politically because it would top the 53.5 percent he received when he was elected in December 2005.
But the opposition – which is centered in the more entrepreneurial-minded eastern states – has also emerged fortified. Three of the four states that voted this year for great autonomy from the central government in La Paz rejected the president, and voters ratified opposition governors in all four of the states.
Ruben Costas, governor of the main opposition state, Santa Cruz, won 71 percent of the vote, according to ATB.
Manfred Reyes, the governor of Cochabamba state, was losing, according to exit polls.
Reyes had said that the referendum was illegal and that he would not leave the governor’s office on Monday. That could set the stage for a violent confrontation in a state where pro-government supporters burned the governor’s office 18 months ago in opposition to Reyes.
Besides Reyes, the governors of La Paz and Oruro also appeared on the way to being recalled. Morales would appoint interim replacements before new elections would be called in 90-120 days.
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