Bolivian voters appeared to have delivered a slim but stinging defeat to President Evo Morales after election officials announced he had lost a bid to run for a fourth straight term in office. As early results came in Morales appeared defiant and unwilling to accept what increasingly looked like his biggest electoral setback in 10 years. But the country’s electoral authorities announced on Tuesday night that voters in a referendum had ultimately rejected by a slim margin a constitutional amendment to let him run for a further term in 2019. After the announcement people poured into the streets to celebrate in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, where opposition to Morales is strong. Fireworks also sounded in La Paz, where there is weariness of corruption in the governing party.
Tensions rose in Bolivia on Sunday night after a closely fought referendum on whether to allow left-wing Bolivian president Evo Morales to stand for a fourth term went down to the wire. Following the national vote, surveys suggested Morales may have suffered his biggest election setback in 10 years, but as of midnight the final count was still too narrow to call. Exit polls by Mori indicated the proposal to revise the constitution was defeated by 51% to 49% while an Ipsos poll had a slightly wider gap of 52.3% to 47.7%. With the difference close to the margin of error, neither side was willing to concede defeat, but unease rose along with the uncertainty.
On February 21, some 6.5 million Bolivian voters will decide whether to amend their Constitution to permit a third consecutive presidential term. A “Yes” vote will allow President Evo Morales and Vice-President Alvaro García Linera to run for reelection in 2019 for another 5 years. A “No” vote will require the ruling MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) party to select a new slate in 2019. Morales, Bolivia’s longest-serving president, has just completed his first decade in office (2005–2015)—a remarkable achievement in a country which has suffered close to 200 coups. He also has the longest tenure of any incumbent Latin American president, with a current term extending to 2020. The proposed amendment would actually allow him a fourth consecutive term— 20 years in total— counting his first (2005) election, which predates the new Constitution. Morales wants 70% of Bolivian voters to ratify the amendment—though only a plurality is required—to top the 54%, 64%. and 61% mandates he received, respectively, in the 2005, 2009, and 2014 elections. He also won a 2008 “recall” vote by a landslide (67%).
Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal says 6.5 million people are registered to vote in February’s national referendum. The data shows that there has been a 3 percent increase in the number of new voters since the last referendum in September 2015. It’s compulsory to vote in Bolivian elections. The referendum on Feb. 21 will ask voters whether they want to amend the constitution and abolish the two-term limit for the head of state. If it’s approved, President Evo Morales will be able to seek re-election in the next elections scheduled for 2019.
The National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment Thursday to lift Ecuador’s presidential term limits as violent street protests escalated against what many demonstrators deemed a power grab by President Rafael Correa. Part of a package of amendments, the measure will permit the leftist Correa to run for the office indefinitely beginning in 2021. His current term ends in 2017 and he has said he does not intend to run at that time. Analysts have called Correa’s decision a shrewd political move considering Ecuador’s current economic woes.
Bolivian President Evo Morales ’s ruling Movement Toward Socialism party won a two-thirds supermajority in the legislative assembly in an election earlier this month, according to final results released late Wednesday, solidifying his political control in the Andean nation. More than two weeks after Bolivians went to the polls, the country’s electoral court announced the final results of the vote count, showing that Mr. Morales’s party, known as MAS, won 113 of the 166 seats in the assembly. While Mr. Morales’s re-election to a third term was confirmed shortly after the Oct. 12 election, the results for the legislative assembly weren’t immediately clear. Analysts say the two-thirds result could open the door for Mr. Morales to change the constitution, which would be necessary to remove presidential term limits.
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.”