August 10, 2008

The August 10 Recall Referendum in Bolivia

MABB © ®

Once again Bolivians return to the ballot boxes, this time to recall or reconfirm Bolivia's President, Vicepresident and eight of the nine Prefects.

This time, at one day of the referendum, I will try to provide the rules of the process. For example, I can tell you that the referendum had a detailed schedule of what is to happen. After the referendum takes place, tomorrow August 10, the counting of the ballots will start at 1800 hours. By Saturday 30th, the counting of the departmental votes should be finished. The national count should be ready by September 4, and official results should be anywhere after September 8, after the results are presented to Congress.

However, there is a real confusion as the recall referendum law (very slow to load ) stipulates how the President and Vicepresident and the eight Prefects are to be recalled and the National Electoral Court (CNE) has decided to issue its own interpretation of how the official are to be recalled.

Let's remember from prior conversations that the law says the officials will be recalled if they receive one more negative vote than what they got in the last election. That means, for Morales and Garcia, for example, they have to get 55% negative votes to be recalled. But, these formulation and the formula stipulated in the law was heavily criticized because it was confusing. Some Prefects could have been recalled with less than 50% of the votes, that is, from a minority. For that reason, the CNE, which was formally asked to resolve this problem, recently issued a resolution determining they would declare any Prefect recalled if any of them would get more than 50% of the votes against them. The President's and Vicepresident's percentages would stay the same.

This decision brought the CNE in direct confrontation with the government, which was happy with the old formula. Now, the government is set on following the law and the CNE has said it will follow its own formula.

In addition, I wanted to publish the table below which shows Evo Morales' chances to be recalled or re-elected (taken from Angus Reid).

Jul. 29

Jul. 15

Yes (For Morales to stay on as president)



No (To recall Morales)



Blank ballot / Void ballot



Not sure



Source: Captura Consulting SRL / El Deber
Methodology: Interviews with 2,100 adult Bolivians in La Paz, El Alto, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, conducted from Jul. 26 to Jul. 29, 2008. Margin of error is 2.1 per cent.

As far as I can see, it looks pretty tight for Morales. The intention vote is close to the danger zone. There was a slight jump. But, if you look at the people who want to recall him, you can see he can breath better, but the disturbing thing is that there was also a jump upwards.