July 23, 2005

On the Way to Elections in December

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The political parties are in full swing in preparation for the oncoming December 4th elections. In fact some of them have even come out stronger than anticipated.

More or less, the established parties are in the process of defining their candidates and their campaigns. Some issues floating around are campaign finance (some parties want to stop government finance for political campaigns) and the respect of the first majority (this was thrown into the ring by Tuto Quiroga). However we should not expect something definite in the near future. As I said, they are topics being discussed as I write this post.

What is important to highlight is what the parties themselve are doing. Most of them have set dates for their national conventions where they will decide who will be the candidates for president, vice-president, senators and deputies. Additionally, the parties want to define their strategies. Following there is a brief description of plans and primary strategies of some parties.

MAS

The MAS party will hold its national convention, although they call it assembly, on July 30 and 31.

Among their proposed strategies are:

- To work on establising alliances with other political parties
- To broaden their appeal to the middle class
- To establish international relations with other Latin American countries and the EU and Asia.

One part of MAS' strategy is to go after Tuto Quiroga. MAS has filed a demand against Quiroga with the courts. The party argues that Quiroga should be tried for acting against the country while he was president. Allegedly, Quiroga signed four shared-risk contracts with energy companies and did not send the contracts to Congress to be approved.

MNR

The MNR is to hold its national convention on August 11th. However, the party is in deep crisis due to an internal split of factions. These factions are, on the one side loyal followers of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (who is the current leader and boss of the party) of which included are the current leadership. On the other side, there are the people following Juan Carlos Gumucio, who thinks the MNR needs a change in leadership. Thus, there is not much time for strategy for this party.

MIR

MIR has said it will hold its national convention on August 10. The party was also in a crisis, but it seems to be coming out of it. The agenda for the conventions is as follows:

- To determine who the candidates will be
- To think about alliance scenarios
- To fix the problem with Potosi

The party has made two important decisions, as far as I can see. One is, the current leader Jaime Paz Zamora, has understood the need for change in leadership and thus he is stepping aside to make space and instead he will be seeking the prefecture of Tarija. The other one is that it seems the next presidential candidate will be Hormando Vaca Diez. This will have to be decided on August 10. But, along with the elections of Vaca Diez as the presidential candidate, come many problems that have to be thought out. First, there is a faction of MIR, namely that of Potosi, who have said they will not support a Vaca Diez candidacy. Second, strategically, it may prove to be challenging. The party is seeking to broaden its national support, thus some people think that by choosing Vaca Diez, they will gain more support in Eastern Bolivia (Santa Cruz, to be more exact). However, the same choice will for sure rest significant support from the Western side of the country. So, some in the party are aguing to choose a vice-president from the Altiplano. This can potentially be optimal for MIR.

As expected, there are many issues to be resolved before even getting started. The elections are some five months away and, in my opinion, there is not much time. What I like to see though, is the process to move along the way it is doing.