November 29, 2009

Election Day in Bolivia

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Tomorrow, December 6, 2009, Bolivia will, once again, go to the ballot boxes to vote for a new government. They will have to vote for a new President, Vicepresident, and members of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies (upper and lower legislative chambers).

It's pretty much no secret that Evo Morales will win the election. He has been leading opinion polls all along. I have collected polls from recent months to show the trends. The graphs below present the intention vote conducted by two companies, Ipsos, Apoyo, Opinion y Mercado and Equipos Mori. These polls have been published in Angus Reid's website.

The above graphs clearly present two things. First, the upward trend of Morales' support. He has never really been in any significant trouble, rather in a comfortable lead (about 20 percentage points, at least). Second, and most important, the graphs show the gap between Morales and the closest candidate. This last point is important because, according to the law, the elections will not go into a second round if either of the following conditions is true: The winner (Morales) wins with more than 50% of the vote; or if the winner does not reach relative majority (Bolivians call this absolute majority), he will have to win with at least 40% of the vote and have 10 percentage points lead to the second runner up. As you can see, Morales will achieve both, if the numbers above are any indication.

The last graph shows Morales' approval trend. He was in a bit of trouble in the beginning of 2009. He even reached the 40s, but recovered on time.

What really is at play tomorrow is the control of the new Plurinational Legislative Assembly. MAS has had control of the lower chamber and is pretty much sure it will gain control of it again. The most important task of the campaign was to assure, as much as possible, the control of the Senate. This was the highest priority for MAS and Morales. Without the control of the Senate, it will be politics as usual for the government. If MAS gets to control the Senate, it will be a significant step to consolidate its power. The Senate will have 36 members, 4 for each department. They will be elected following proportional representation, taking the results in each department. The key is for MAS to gain as many seats in the Senate to get a majority, that is, at least 19 Senators.

But, and this is a very weak but, if voters decide to make use of what Bolivians are calling the "crossed vote", things might get a little tricky for Evo. The crossed vote is one of the possibilities voters have at the time of voting. The ballot is divided in two areas, an upper and a lower area. The upper area lists the Presidential and Vicepresidential candidates and includes the candidate lists of the corresponding party. The lower area will present the single district candidate (uninominal, in Bolivian jargon) of each of the 70 districts in the territory. Now, each voter has two votes, one in the upper area where he or she will vote for the President and Vicepresident and for the party. The second vote is in the lower area and is for the particular representative in each district. So, people, have basically several options: either make two crosses (one up and one down) for the President, his Vice and the party as well as for the individual district representative. Alternatively, and this is what I meant with crossed vote, the voter could vote for President Morales and his party MAS on the upper area and for the lower area he or she could say, ok, I want to balance power and I don't want Morales to be almighty, so therefore I will vote for a district representative that is not from MAS. That would be the worst nighmare for Morales, because for certain it will prevent him from gaining control of the legislative.

Tomorrow will be a very busy day for people covering the election. Below I want to post some links where those who are interested on Bolivian politics can follow the events. One thing, some links are in Spanish, no way around that.


La Razon, El Diario, La Prensa, Los Tiempos, El Deber

Web 2.0:

Letras Alteñas, El Alto Blogs Bolivia, EABOLIVIA, Bolivia al Minuto

And of course in Twitter and Facebook:

El Deber, Pronto, HoyBolivia, La Razon

Please let us know of other links if you know of any, thanks...