December 09, 2009

The First Actions of the New Plurinational Legislative Assembly

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The government and the new Plurinational Legislative Assembly, henceforth, assembly, will need to pass a number of laws in the next weeks. The first five, which by constitutional mandate have to be approved within 180 days from the first day of the assembly, are as follows:

1. The law of the Plurinational Electoral Organ (OEP, in Spanish)
2. The electoral law (probably the current transitory law will do)
3. The law of the Judicial Organ
4. The law of the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal
5. The framework law for autonomies and decentralization

These laws have priority because they will be needed for the next steps, namely the upcoming April municipal and prefectural elections and the constitutional check of the autonomic statutes.

Other laws voted in the assembly will be: the universal health coverage insurance law, the education law (Abelino Sinani), and the anticorruption law (Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz).

Source: La Razon

December 07, 2009

The Day After the Election: Bolivia

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According to most press reports based on exit polls, Evo Morales has achieved his objective to sweep the general elections by winning with a large margin (62.5%) and gain control of the Legislative branch with 24 Senators (could be 26 due to a very close race for one seat in Chuquisaca and another in Beni) and 84 seats in the lower chamber (two seats shor of the 2/3 majority, 86). In total, the Plurinational Legislative Assembly is made of 166 seats (36 + 130) and super majority will be reached with 111 members, of which MAS has 108 total. Of course, results are not official, and so we must be patient and wait for the official confirmation of the results by the electoral agency. However, the official results are not expected to vary much from the preliminary results (see graph in La Razon).

At the same time, the five departments that rejected autonomy in July 2, 2006 have decided to hop on the autonomic train. The departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Oruro and Potosi have overwhelmingly voted to become autonomic departments. In addition, one region, the Gran Chaco province (Southern Bolivia, bordering Argentina and Paraguay) as well as 11 municipalities that decided to become indigenous autonomic regions have also voted for autonomy. These are: Huacaya,Tarabuco and Villa Mojocoya in Chuquisaca; Charazani in La Paz; Chipaya, San Pedro de Totora, Pampa Aullagas, Salinas de Garci Mendoza and Curahuara de Carangas in Oruro; Chayanta in Potosí and Charagua in Santa Cruz.

In order to keep on track, the government has to rush in the coming years through the approval of around 100 pieces of legislation in total. The first order of business for the new government and assembly is to approve the Ley Marco de Autonomias (which frames the implementation of autonomies) and issue another call for the April 4, 2010 prefectural and municipal elections.

The full extent of Morales' power will become clear with these elections. The MAS' primary objective is to capture as many departments and municipalities as possible. Higher objectives are the prefectures of Beni, Pando and Santa Cruz and their respective municipalities.

Other laws that will be worked on are:
Laws to reform the structure of the Judicial branch and to assure the compatibility of ordinary and communal justice. Another law will bring changes on the National Electoral Court.

December 06, 2009

Preliminary Results: Exit Polls Give Morales Another Historic Win

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Numbers from UNITEL after 66 per cent counted.

Morales 62, Manfred 26 and Samuel 7.

According to reports from Erbol (exit polls), Evo Morales and MAS have won the general elections 2009 with 63 per cent of the vote. The closer runner up is Plan Progreso para Bolivia (PPB) from Manfred Reyes got 24 per cent and in third place is Samuel Doria from Unidad Nacional (UN) with a 7.7 per cent of the vote.

Results at the departmental level, which are important for the distribution of legislative seats, are: in La Paz MAS got 81.1%, in Chuquisaca 43.3%, in Cochabamba 65.9%, in Santa Cruz 43.5%, Potosí 69.4%, in Oruro 74.3%, Beni 36% and Pando 47%.

More detailed results: Erbol

MAS is tending to gain 25 seats in the Senate. That means that MAS would have 2/3 majority and with that TOTAL control of the legislative. Including the power to change the new constitution. Changes like making it possible for Morales to run for president for additional terms!

Some analysts counter that not all is said, only when the municipal and departmental elections are carried out, the political future of Bolivia will be finished. In my opinion, Morales does not need to wait (and I would argue he will not do) until these elections are over. My counter argument would be that the constitution can be changed as we have seen recently.

Live and Streaming Coverage of the Bolivian Elections

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It's as if the last ten years have brought a revolution in the coverage of Bolivia online. When I started blogging, back in 2003, there was only a hand full of people covering Bolivian developments. In fact, that is one reason why I started blogging. Today, I am impressed on the kind of coverage there is of the Bolivian elections. The protagonists are Facebook, Twitter, the web 2.0 and tv feeds.

For example, if you go to Twitter, you can make a couple of searches to find yourself in the lines, at the doors of precincts, and so on. A brief and broad search for Bolivia will take pretty far, but if you want only election coverage then you have to use hash tags such as #elecciones, #bolivianelections, and #6dbol. The last being the most informative, though they are connected. At present time, there are two websites (the so called web 2.0) covering the elections. The first is part of the effort many active citizens, and might I add, young, have created: This site, also has a feed of twitts and commentary on Facebook. The other one is This las site covers what is going on outside Bolivia, in those cities where expat Bolivians are voting (cities such as Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC., etc.).

If you choose Facebook as your source, you will find many of the already mentioned initiatives as well as other interested Bolivian citizens following the developments. In addition, you can find many of the media outlets such as La Razon, El Deber, Bolivia Hoy, and other interested groups.

On the main stream media side, as I said before, you find many of them in Facebook and Twitter, as well as some places such as The PAT tv network is streaming live its national and international coverage of the process. Also, you can find, of course, the many newspaper websites, which are updated several times a day. But this updates are slower, of course than the Internet. Another source of information, which has been a source for quite some time are the live feeds of radios. You can visit radios such as Fides, Erbol, Illimani, El Deber has a radio as well, etc.

So as you can see, there is plenty of coverage on Bolivia, in Spanish. The coverage in the international arena is pretty much limited to the main stream media, such as BBC, AP reports, CNN International (very little), AFN, etc., and some blogs such as the one you are reading. There is one blog I recommend visiting, and that is Pronto*, which is written by a friend of mine. I recommend it because it is very informative.

PS. For most of the links, please see the side bar in this blog. Thank you.