Preliminary results suggest that Bolivians handed President Evo Morales an unprecedented third consecutive term on Sunday, and gave him a legislative majority needed to consolidate his reforms, largely on the strength of the economic and political stability his government has come to represent. A Mori exit poll released by Unitel television showed Morales, a native Aymara from Bolivia’s poor, wind-swept Andean plateau, winning 60 percent of the vote. His closest rival among four challengers, Samuel Doria Medina, had 25 percent, according a quick count of 97 percent of the voting stations by the Ipsos firm for the ATB television channel. Around six million Bolivians cast their ballots. Doria Medina conceded defeat late Sunday promising to “keep working to make a better country.”
As the unofficial results were announced, Morales’ supporters ran out into the streets to celebrate the win. In a victory speech from the balcony of the presidential palace in La Paz, Morales dedicated his victory to Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.
“It is triumph of the anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists,” Morales said in a booming voice. “We are going to keep growing and we are going to continue the process of economic liberation.”
Morales won eight of Bolivia’s nine states, including the former opposition stronghold of Santa Cruz, an agribusiness center in the eastern lowlands where he polled 51 percent, according to Ipsos.
Morales will now eclipse as Bolivia’s longest-serving leader consecutively in office the 19th century Marshal Andres de Santa Cruz, a founder of the republic in power from 1829-1839.