December 04, 2005

Two Issues Dominating the Campaign Trail

MABB © ®
After almost a week of vacation, I return to the blogsphere to continue bringing information about Bolivia. How was my vacation you ask? It was very nice, like any vacation. I indulged in Toulousane delicacies like hot chocolate, fresh baked pastries, delicious regional kitchen and of course, cheese and wine. At the same time, I walked around the city, visiting the most interesting places for someone who is interested in medieval history as I am. Well, but now, back to work.

We are exactly 15 days before the elections. According to my oppinion, there are currently two main issues affecting the campaign season. One is the issue Quiroga has been pushing for, respect of the majority vote. The other issue popped up rather sudden and concerns the eternal shadow of a violent overthrow of the government.

Concerning the respect to the majority vote, there has not been much progress. Jorge Quiroga (Podemos) has been trying to make it an issue. He's been asking Evo Morales (MAS) to sign a pact whereby they would promise to respect the majority vote in Congress. Morales has refused signing such agreement and has refuted Quiroga's challenges by saying he does not make agreements with a "neoliberal". Morales is the front runner in the polls and enjoys a two to three percentage lead over Quiroga.

The second issue, related to the first one, has stirred concern from many in the country. The disturbance came from the comments one MAS senator, Roman Loayza, made. Loayza announced a "social mobilization" if Morales did not get elected president. He went as far as to suggest there were plans to bring Morales to power by force. Loayza mentioned there were contacts already with the military and the police forces. Loayza ended his comments by saying Morales would be president "even if force is necessary". These worrying comments come on the back of other troubling comments made by the vice-president candidate of MAS and former guerrilla member, Alvaro Garcia Linera. In his comments, Garcia Linera challenged the people gathered there to defend their vote with "mobilizations". To top it all off, none of these comments prompted a decisive and categotic no by the presidential candidate, Evo Morales. He brushed Loayza's comments as personal and lost views . He also issued a statement where he does say that his party is commited to the democratic institutions. But that wasn't enough to reassure the other candidates. Morales continues to assert that the "bolivian people" will not accept other president than the MAS candidate.

For its part, the military has recently, once again, expressed its respect for the democratic institutions and its commitment to defend it. It is funny that the Bolivian military has repeatedly had to publically reassure the people and the government their support for democracy. I guess the past still hunts Bolivia.

It is certainly very worrying the attitude Morales and his party are taking towards these elections. I have not seen Morales absolutely discarding any violent overthrow of the government. That is what is most worrying to me. He says he is committed to democracy, yet he continues to assert that the people will not accept other president than him. Furthermore, in view of the inminent rift between the Congress and a possible Morales government (it is becoming incresingly clear), many MAS senators have been exprssing Morales' intentions to govern the country by decree. That means, he would issue law without consulting the Congress. Additionally, he would heavily rely on demonstrations or mobilizations as he calls them. This would mean that Congress would be pressured to act by street demonstrations. Currently, there are too many cries of war and insurrection if Morales doesn't win. It is to say the least, unsettling.