December 15, 2005

Two Days Before the Elections

MABB © ®
Here we are, two days before the elections. I am glad to see Bolivia has stumbled through all the problems and has managed to still hold the elections. Although, to arrive to this, the government has had to strech the law and walk on a thin line between constitutionalism and un-consitutionalism. But, we're here.

Some comments are due, before we enter the final stretch. For starters, the last polls confirm Evo Morales and MAS being on the lead, but closely followed by Quiroga (Podemos). According to the latest polls conducted by Ipsos Captura and Equipos Mori, Evo Morales leads with 34% to Quiroga's 29% of the vote. This lead has increased marginally since the last polls I cited. However, as I have been highlighting, there is a significant part of the electorate who will be either voting blank or is not revealing for whom the'll vote. Added to this is the undecided voters. These three kinds of votes add up to a significant percentage. In the Ipsos poll, these add up to around 22% of the electorate. According to Mori, this number is around 21%. If these voters would vote in block, they would have a deciding role as you may imagine after doing the math. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see that this number represents a big chunk of the electorate. It could almost be the third political force in terms of support, since Doria Medina is polling in the single digits still. However, the role of these voters is bound to be small since they are not a block. The undecideds theoretically could vote for any candidate, and probably will. One can discard the people who'll be voting in blank and as for the people who know who'll they vote for, they can be counted together with the undecided. In percentage terms we are talking about around 14% (according to Mori). In my opinion still somewhat significant, but not a deciding factor.

What could be a deciding factor is the latest MAS move. See, I think Morales has a good political consultant advising him. The reason is because he seems, to me, to be making very good political moves aimed at positioning him optimally not just in the polls, but in the elections as well. His decision not to debate, even though in my opinion was not very democratic, has only strenthened his image. First, he was able to publically discredit his opponent. Second he showed he is the champion in the fight against neoliberalism by calling Quiroga a neoliberal and saying he did not need to debate with a neoliberal. I think his political advisors have realized Morales doesn't need to debate in order to gain more supporters. They realize the Bolivian electorate is practically polarized and they just about have gotten as much support as they can. But, his latest move, as I said earlier, is made to solidify his standing. The vice president candidate Linera has expressed his party's openness to work with the other political parties in Congress in the framework of a programmatic plan, without forming political alliances. This is a good move if we take into account how much Congress is disapproved, and the reason is because everyone thinks that the so called mega-coalitions have distributed power among themselves, and nothing else good has come out of it. In this sense, Morales is opening himself up to negotiations to be elected president in Congress without having to distribute power within any new coalition. This move, leaves him open to discussion, yet good in the eyes of the average voter.

All will not be said on Sunday. The most interesting part will come the following weeks.

In the mean time, there is a period of intense scrutiny in which Bolivia will be entering as of 0:00 hours in Friday. There are a variety of things Bolivians will not be able to do while in this period. The CNE has issued a resolution, with the force of law, to assure a good outcome of the elections. For instance, two days before Sunday and one day after, it is forbidden to sell and consume alcohol, bear arms, to organize any public venue, transport voters from one precinct to another, drive around in a private car, to travel by land anywhere in the country and every airplane landing has to be authorized. Also, since voting is obligatory by law, he who does not vote will be fined, he who does not have a voting certification will also be fined, those public servants who do not ask for the certificate while conducting official business will be fined, those who lied at the registration and those electoral officials who do not report irregularities will be fined.

So as you can see, all is well and on track. This Sunday 18 Bolivians will (try) choose their new president and will start down a road to founding a new country through what is to be a rough road ahead.

Earlier posts about polls: here, here, here, here

Also see: Miguel at Ciao! has been busy looking at the polls.