Bolivia’s vote a high-stakes regulatory redo amid a pandemic

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivians vote Sunday at a high-stakes presidential election redo that will establish the nation’s democratic potential and deliver a recurrence of socialism in a time when it’s struggling with a ferocious outbreak and protests over the past year’s annulled ballot.

Bolivia, after among the most politically volatile nations in Latin America, experienced a rare period of stability under former President Evo Morales, the nation’s first Indigenous president who resigned and fled the nation last year following his asserted election triumph was annulled amid allegations of fraud. Morales called his ouster that a coup.

“Bolivia’s new legislative and executive leaders will face daunting challenges at a polarized nation, ravaged by COVID-19, also commanded by endemically weak associations,” stated the Washington Office on Latin America, a Washington-based human rights advocacy organization.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has urged Bolivians to honor the electoral process, and specifically the last outcome.

Ballots and other substances were sent to polling stations Saturday by military and police components without any incident, officials said. Soldiers and police took to the roads hours afterward trying to guarantee calm.

The nation’s Supreme Electoral Court announced late Saturday that it had determined against reporting conducting preliminary vote totals because ballots have been counted. It said it needed to avoid the doubt that fed unrest if there was a lengthy stop in reporting preliminary results during last year’s election.

Council President Salvador Romero guaranteed a secure and clear official count, which might take five times.

To triumph at the first round, a candidate requires more than 50 percent of their vote, or 40% using a lead of 10 or more percentage points within the second-place candidate. A runoff vote, if needed, could be held on Nov. 28.

Bolivia’s whole 136-member Legislative Assembly also will be hunted in.

The election has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The election will happen with physical distancing demanded between masked voters — at least formally, if not in practice.

A centrist historian and journalist that had been next to Morales at the contested returns introduced after a year’s vote.

Overshadowing the vote would be that the lack of Morales, who headed Bolivia from 2006 before 2019 and has been a vital figure at the bloc of leftist leaders that held power throughout much of South America.

He picked Arce because his stand-in for the Movement Toward Socialism party, along with a triumph from the party could be regarded as a success for Latin America’s left.

A boyhood llama herder who became dominant leading a coca grower’s marriage, Morales was hugely popular whilst overseeing an export-led financial surge that decreased poverty throughout the majority of his word. However, support was eroding because of his reluctance to leave electricity, raising authoritarian instincts, and also a string of corruption scandals.

He shrugged aside a public vote which had put term limitations, and competed at the October 2019 presidential election, he promised to have won outright. However, a protracted pause in reporting results borne suspicions of fraud, and also nationally protests broke out.

When authorities and army leaders indicated he depart, Morales fled and fled the country.

Conservative Sen. Jeanne Áñez declared himself president and has been approved by the courts. Her government, despite needing a majority in congress, set in attempting to prosecute Morales and essential words while undoing his policies, helping prompt more unrest and polarization.

She fell out as a candidate for Sunday’s presidential elections whilst trailing badly in polls.

Most surveys have shown Arce using a lead, although probably not sufficient to prevent a runoff.

There’s a strong chance that the third president will fight with a split congress — and possibly worse, a resistance that won’t recognize defeat.