April 16, 2009

A Peek Into the New Electoral Law

MABB © ®

This is a short and preliminary look into the new Bolivian electoral law. It is also opportune to mention that there are apparently many versions circulating. Until the government publishes the law in the official newspaper (Gaceta Oficial), there will be doubts. The version I got comes from Congress. Thank you Mariana!


The law has 75 articles and 8 final regulations.

Citizens older than 18 years of age can vote (before there was a proposal by the government to let 16 year olds vote). One has to be registered and eligible to vote.

To promote gender equality each candidate list will have to alternate between men and women. In the single districts, the alternating principle will also be applied. The exceptions are the candidates for the special indigenous seats. In this case, they can apply their own rules.

The current electoral courts officials are to remain in their posts until the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (national and departmental) are elected.

There will be a new voter registration list, which will use biometric data as well as ID number, RUN or military service number.

People who cannot run for election are: government officials, ministers and military personnel in active service who did not resign from their post at least 3 months before election day; directors in "transnational companies" who did not resignt at least 5 years before election day; citizens who are in prison and owe the state.

The law calls for general elections and autonomic referenda on December 6, 2009 and for elections of departmetnal executives and assembies as well as municipal authorities on April 4, 2010.

Election procedures

President and Vicepresident - 51% + (absolute majority) or at least 40% with a minimum 10% difference with the second runner up. If no candidate winns, there will be a second round of elections (within 60 days) between the two most voted candidates. He or she who wins with a simple majority will win.

Legislative Plurinational Assembly - it is composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Senators. The lower chamber will be made up of 130 seats, from which 68 will be uninominal (single district/simple majority/based on population and territory) and 54 plurinominal (party lists headed by President and VP/proportional representation) and 8 "special indigenous" seats (simple majority/indigenous districts). The upper chamber will be made up of 36 members, 4 in each department. They will be elected according to proportional representation system as well.

Departmental executives - Governors or Prefects can be elected; in all departments, except in Santa Cruz, Governors or Prefects can be elected by simple majority (in Santa Cruz absolute majority is necessary). In Santa Cruz there will be a second round if necessary between the two most voted candidates (similar to the national level). There is the possibility to resign or bein recalled.

Departmental Assemblies in Beni, Tarija, Pando and Santa Cruz - In Beni the assembly is made up of 3 representatives of each departmental province, two indigenous and two campesinos (peasants) seats. In Tarija there will be 30 seats, 12 per province, 15 according to population and 3 indigenous seats. In Pando there will be one representative per municipality and one indigenous representative. In Santa Cruz a total of 28 seats, of which one representative for each of the 15 provinces, five indigenous seats and 8 seats according to population in each province.