August 10, 2008

Recall Referendum in Bolivia

MABB © ®

Update (1730 hours Bolivian time):

Voting precincts are slowly closing down after 8 hours of voting. Very early and sporadic results are starting to come out reporting some results. In some urban places in La Paz, Morales was recalled and Paredes was confirmed in office. But, that has no meaning until some of the totals start arriving to the CNE.

However, reports of massive purging of voters has been flooding the airwaves through radio and television. Many others protested that they could not vote because someone else had voted with their names.

A preliminary assessment from the part of the government says that the referendum was a success for the Bolivian democratic process.

In Buenos Aires Bolivian immigrants are voting symbolically. No results yet!

Update (1600 hours Bolivian time):

The main problem being reported is the purging of the voting registry. Many citizens are upset because they were not able to vote.

In La Paz, there has been a department wide confusion with electoral officials. These officials did not show up to their respective polling places.

Another complaint is that MAS supporters are still giving out political propaganda.

Some ballot boxes did not get to the place they had to get. In El Alto, there is a hospital that was supposed to receive a ballot box so the hospital personnel and the patients could vote, but as said, the ballot box never arrived. People are upset because if they don't have a proof they issued their vote, they cannot do many bureaucratic paper work.

It is about 1500 hours in Bolivia and the recall referendum seems to be going on without major problems. There are no reports of major disturbances, in contrast to the referenda in May and June, but the process is not without incidents.

In La Paz, Oruro and other parts of the country there are sporadic reports of alleged fraud. Many people are not able to vote, either because they have been purged from the voting registry (for unclear reasons) or confusion because they have been told by the electoral court they can vote but officials in the polling stations say they are not in the lists and therefore are unable to vote. This is spreading confusion and frustration among the population. As times goes on, reports of this kind of irregularities constinues spreading.

Other reports say the government is still campaigning, when the last official day for campaigning was on Friday. People in La Paz have reported private cars driving around and handing out government propaganda. These same people are giving propaganda and 'explaining' voters 'how' to vote.

In Potosi, some organizations backing the government have said any vote against Morales would not be accepted. On the back of this statement, there have been reports in La Paz and Potosi of MAS groups trying to control poll stations and not permitting other groups to observe and control the voting process.

For the most part, however, the reports are saying that voting is going according to the plan and peaceful. This is also true in problem regions such as Yapacani, San Julian and Plan 3000, which were problem spots in the departmental referendum in Santa Cruz or Huanuni, which was the focus of another problem in Oruro.

Reports are saying that about 50% of the voting has already taken place and that shortly after 1800 hours, when polls will be closing, people should be expecting primary results.

There was another report of a high OAS official saying that the organization supports the CNE's formula to get results. This way, the text of the law would not be the measure bar but the CNE's resolution.

I also wanted to place this table (own elaboration) below which shows a poll conducted by Captura Consulting for La Prensa, La Paz.

Approval of candidate, national and per department in percentage

Natl Suc LP Cbb SC Pot Tar Ben Pan Oru
E Morales 54 41 77
30 67 39 43 51 75
A Garcia 54 41 77
30 67 39 43 51 75
R Costas



M Cossio


JL Paredes


E Suarez


M Reyes


L Agular

M Virreira


If you look at the table above, you can see that Morales and his VP will be confirmed in office. On the case of the Prefects, you can also see that Costas, Cossio, and Suarez are as optimist as Morales. On the contrary, Paredes and Virreira have to be worried. Difficult to say is on the cases of Reyes Villa, Fernandez and Aguilar, who are close to 50%, within the margin of error. Notice that those Prefects who receive a 51% of supporting votes will continue in office.

The picture is not surprising and tell us that nothing will change after August 10. Maybe the opposition will not be as strong as before, but it won't be as if they cannot continue their fight. Reyes Villa, for his part, has expressed his decision to run for president in the next elections.

Sources: La Presa, here and here.

Also I wanted to suggest you to visit Pronto*. You can find there interesting conversations on the recall vote, the government system that is approaching, and analysis on the whole situation.