Subnational Elections in Bolivia


On March 29, 2015, Bolivia went once again to the ballot box this time to elect sub-national authorities. On that day, the question of distribution of power among the so called autonomous departments and municipalities across the territory was decided.  However, while most states and municipalities have had a clear outcome, there are still some unclear departments in which a second round of elections will be necessary. This second round will happen on May 3, 2015.

However, one thing is already clear from the partial results: namely, the MAS is slowly but surely losing its hegemony, at least at the regional and local level.

The monitoring and figuring out the results is not that easy in Bolivia. But, there are a few things the one who follows this with interest has to pay attention to.

Similar to a federal system, the different levels of governments have a government and an assembly or you might call it a parliament. At the departmental level, the head of government is the Governor (before it was called Prefect). But, the governor also has to pass legislation for his or her department through the scrutiny of the departmental assembly. For that reason, the distribution of power within that assembly is also important. Important is, above all, which parties make it into the assembly, the proportion of votes each party has, the coalition alternatives and who controls the agenda setting mechanisms. Most of all, the different coalition alternatives has proven to be of utmost importance, given the fact that in some particular assemblies coalitions have changed frequently and not always per ideological reasons.

Similar to the departmental levels, the municipal levels of government in the country have a head of government, the Mayor (or in Spanish, the Alcalde) and an elected assembly. The things to pay attention to are the same as in the departmental level. However, here, the possibility of removing the Mayor through a constructive vote of no confidence procedure make the number of parties present in the assembly and the distribution of power among them also important. Not to mention the alternative coalitional possibilities. This has led in the recent past in quite a few municipalities for a very unstable political situation. In addition, added to this situation in the assembly, the role of the vigilance committee (a sort of civil society watch dog with powers to stop the flow of funds to the municipality) has but complicated the political process.

The final results are on the way!

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