December 07, 2009

The Day After the Election: Bolivia

MABB © ®

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.


Frank_IBC said...

Interesting about Gran Chaco. IIRC this includes parts of what is now Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, and Tarija Departments - do you think those will resist the formation of the new province from their territories?

mabb said...

Actually, Gran Chaco is a province in the department of Tarija. You mean the Chaco region, which extends in to Paraguay, Brazil and a bit of Argentina.

What I would expect is some friction between the province, the departmental government and somewhere in between, the central government.

But, you put your finger into something that I think Bolivians are not considering when designing the autonomy law. That is, when a province x or a municipality y (excluding the indigenous autonomies for now) decides to become autonomous, it asks its inhabitants in a referendum if they want autonomy or not. That much is given. However, what happens with the opinion of the people outside the region in question.

As we know, in such circumstances these regions/entities have been and still are interdependent. That is, when a province makes such a decision, it has an unavoidable effect on the department. Take the Gran Chaco province, for example. If it becomes autonomous, it will get control of the larges and richest natural gas camps in Bolivia (Margarita). That will have an effect of the economy of the department. It will have less resources for investments on the rest of the places around Gran Chaco.

Frank_IBC said...

Thanks, Miguel - I was remembering a proposal from several years ago, which would have created an entire new department from parts of Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca and Tarija.

Genies and bottles, unintended consequences... but, the more autonomy, the better.