May 09, 2014

Elections 2014: Electoral Manipulation or Mere Organizational Process?

MABB ©

The electoral season is widely open in Bolivia and the government is already in the middle of campaigning towards a third term for the incumbent president Evo Morales. However, according to the opposition and some officials, campaigning is not all the government is doing. Since the advent of the new Plurinational Bolivian State in 2009, the government has been accused of having co-opted many important offices in the Bolivian government.

These days this general accusation is coming back to attention through the problem brewing regarding the coming elections in October and the method of congressional seats distribution. The Supreme Tribunal, the office in charge of carrying out the elections, has made public the methodology it plans to use to distribute the single-member district seats in congress.

In contrast to the previous methodology where the one criteria was the population, that is the proportion of the population to be represented by a single congressmen, the new method will also consider the ideal extension of territory. This means concretely that not only the number of people living in a single electoral district will be taken into account but also the size of the territorial extension of that district. In addition, the new regulation also gives these parameters significant room for variation. They either can get bigger or smaller.

In concrete terms, the opposition sees in this new regulation a new attempt from the part of the government to manipulate the election results in favor of itself. Several newspapers and other media have already alarmed the public with their headlines and some have even made some calculations of some of the possible outcomes. One outcome, according to the Pagina Siete newspaper, can be that the urban districts be reduced or combined into one districts and the number of rural districts to increase. This, would represent a significant advantage for the government because the MAS tends to have more support in the rural areas.

Though the redistricting has not been finished yet, the alarms issued by the media and the opposition are not without some merit. Especially considering that the electoral agency is not considered an independent institution, when in fact it should be.

Sources:
TSE fija margenes amplios para... Pagina Siete
Admiten que el reglamento puede mover circumscripciones ... Los Tiempos
Alerta por nuevo mapa electoral... El Diario

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