The left is back in power in Bolivia. Sunday, October 18, Luis Arce, candidate of the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) – a party founded by former President Evo Morales – won the presidential election organized in this country marked by political and economic instability for a year. Following this victory, the former Bolivian president announced, Monday, October 19, that he would return “sooner or later” in his country.
In the first round, the former Minister of the Economy defeated his main rival, former President Carlos Mesa (2003-2005). “This large victory confirms that the MAS retains a strong territorial presence in Bolivia”, estimates Gaspard Estrada, director of the observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean at Sciences-Po.
The left-wing party was weakened after the resignation, in October 2019, of the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, accused of electoral fraud by the opposition. “Some members of the middle class were very criticalvis-a-visof the ex-president, but they were not ready to withdraw their support for the MAS ”, explains Kevin Parthenay, doctor of political science at Sciences-Po.
For a year, the country had been led by the interim president, Jeanine Áñez, placed on the right on the political spectrum, whose record is strongly criticized. For some Bolivians, it would have taken too long to organize a new ballot – while that was its primary role. “Some of the Bolivians accuse him of having abused his power, Kevin Parthenay analysis. According to the researcher, this result marks “A return to democracy in Bolivia with the hope of a normal functioning of institutions”. The net and clear result of this election suggests the hope of a return to political stability. “After the departure of Evo Morales, society became very polarized, in particular with a rise in racism on the side of the conservative right”, notes Kevin Parthenay. In order to launch a process of pacification in the country, Luis Arce promised, immediately after his victory, to form a government of national unity.
Beyond the political crisis, this country of 11 million inhabitants has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic (more than 8,400 dead). “Among the priorities, we will have to put Bolivia back on the path to prosperity since the country’s economic growth is expected to fall by 6% this year”, Gaspard Estrada notes. During his electoral campaign, Luis Arce did not fail to recall that under the presidency of Evo Morales (2006-2019), the GDP had quadrupled, with an average growth of 4.9%.
With the return of MAS to power, all eyes are now on Evo Morales. “Will the ex-president pull the strings making Luis Arce a simple puppet?” It is still too early to tell. “