January 10, 2014

Elections 2014: The Opposition Begins to Show Signs of Life

MABB ©

While the date for the upcoming Bolivian general elections in 2014 has not been set yet, the Morales government has already been in campaign for a while and the opposition is just beginning to show signs of life.

On the one side, the Morales government has already started its political campaign in 2013, right after having been given the green light by the constitutional court to run for a third term. The court found a law allowing Morales to run for a third time as constitutional and, that way, allowed a legally questionable exception in favor of the president. The MAS promptly designated Morales as presidential candidate and Garcia as vicepresidential candidate. The campaign is already running full steam ahead.

The opposition, on the other hand, is just beginning to organize itself. While it is populated by many hopeful leaders, they all know very well that if the opposition does not unite, it will have very little chance to remove Morales from power.

So far, there are three clear groups which have demonstrated interest in taking part in the electoral process. The majority of these groups are not political parties, but they are mere alliances of even more different smaller regional and municipal groups with political aspirations, many of which are what is left of the so called traditional political parties that were active before Morales arrived to the presidency.



The exception to the alliance rule is the Movement Without Fear (Movimiento Sin Miedo, MSM), led by Juan del Granado, a former La Paz mayor as well as former member of Movement of the Revolutionary Left (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria, MIR), a political party that lost credibility during the 2000-2005 political crisis period. Del Granado has been designated presidential candidate for the 2014 elections.

The MSM has been able to win a significant number of mayoral offices in the Andean region and some in the low lands in the last elections. These wins have given the party a partial national coverage as well as exposure. Del Granado hopes he will be able to build an alliance upon this electoral wins. While he was a supporter of the MAS government during the first term, he became a harsh critic of Morales after the latter dropped him from the government devaluing his help and support. Del Granado presents himself as the candidate who will follow Morales' process for change but without Morales.

The most significant opposition force until now has been the MDS. The Social Democratic Movement (Movimiento Democrata Social, MDS) was initiated on March 2013 in a Sucre conference, hosted by former Sucre Prefect, Savina Cuellar. This alliance builds up on the former Half Moon (Media Luna) group which presented the strongest opposition to the Morales government between 2006 and 2008. The group presents an interesting amalgamation of regional political forces and their leaders which the only thing they might have in common is their opposition to Morales. On December 2013, Ruben Costas (current Santa Cruz Governor) was declared presidential candidate. This was decided, after having met in a Cochabamba congress, among the three leaders, Costas, Savina Cuellar and Ernesto Suarez (current Governor of Beni).

The MDS will seek power to modify the 2009 constitution to make it, as they say, more democratic. They also seek to implement regional autonomy,

Another alliances is the Ample Front (Frente Amplio, FA) led by Samuel Doria Medina, who is current leader of his party, Unidad Nacional. Doria, a former MIR member as well, has been seeking to ally himself with small and medium entrepreneurs, intellectuals and political analysts, etc. Though he has less political possibilities, he might be the one candidate with the most financial resources. He is owner of the largest cement factory in the country.

Finally, and without too many chances at entering the race are Tuto Quiroga (former President) and Manfred Reyes Villa, leader of New Republican Force (Nueva Fuerza Republicana, NFR) and former Cochabamba Governor. Reyes is currently self-exiled living in the US because he feels he is being politically persecuted by the Morales government. These two former candidates have currently the least possibilities to secure a nomination because the one (Tuto) has not found yet an alliance and the other (Manfred) has a legal process pending against him.

The battles among the opposition to emerge as the real alternative has just began, and some of those battles promise to be very lively. This will be true because of the attempts from the part of the electoral court to prevent the political campaigns to begin too early. However, as already noted, most campaigns have already began (some even months ago).

Sources:
Frente Amplio se define como izquierda democratica (Pagina Siete, Dec. 12, 2013)
El Deber
Bolivia Prensa
Pagina Siete



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