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Politics

Bolivia’s new president: “touches” to the political portrait

On October 23, the Supreme Electoral Court of Bolivia announced the official results of the October 18 General Elections in Bolivia. According to the results of voting, the candidate from the “Movement to Socialism” party, Luis Arce, won a convincing victory, for whom 55.11% of the voters cast their votes. Today many analysts are discussing the main question: will Arce continue the course of Evo Morales? And who is he – the new president of Bolivia?

On October 23, the President of the Supreme Electoral Court of Bolivia Salvador Romero (Spanish – Salvador Romero Ballivián) announced the results of the first round of voting, according to which the victory was won by the candidate from the party of Evo Morales Ayma (Spanish – Juan Evo Morales Ayma) – Luis Arce Catacora (Spanish – Luis Alberto Arce Catacora) with a score of 55.11%. His closest opponent Carlos Mesa (Spanish – Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert) from the “Civil Society” political bloc (Spanish – Comunidad Ciudadana) managed to gain 28.83% of the vote. Thus, the president and vice president were determined in the first round of voting, since the tandem from the party “Movement to Socialism” (Spanish – Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) managed to “step over” the 51% threshold. In third place with a score of 14% was the regional leader of the Santa Cruz department – Fernando Camacho (Spanish – Luis Fernando Camacho Vaca) from the religious-political bloc “Believe” (Spanish – Creemos).

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According to official figures from the Supreme Electoral Court, turnout in the 2020 general elections in Bolivia was 88.42%.

In addition to the head of state and vice-president of Bolivia at the General Elections, the Bolivians, through their votes, “distributed” seats for the next 5 years in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. According to the voting results, in the upper house (Chamber of Senators – 36 seats): 21 – will be occupied by senators from the “Movement to Socialism” party, 11 senators – from the “Civil Society”, 4 – from the “Believe” bloc. The forces in the lower house of the Legislative Assembly (Chamber of Deputies – 130 seats) will be distributed as follows: 75 seats – “Movement to Socialism”, 39 deputies – from the “Civil Society”, 16 – from the “Believe” bloc.

The inauguration of the new president is scheduled for November 8. Today, a number of analysts have already begun to discuss the course of the future Arce government. How does he intend to cope with the economic and health crisis in the country? What are the first steps his government will take? What role could Evo Morales play in Bolivia’s political life when his party takes over the country’s leadership again?

On January 19, the prominent Bolivian economist and politician Luis Arce Catacora was announced as a presidential candidate from the “Movement to Socialism” party. As a priority action plan for the future government, he intends to advance the protection of state-owned companies, the country’s natural resources, and work to return to the growth rates that were recorded in Bolivia during the period when he headed the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance under the presidency of Morales (from 2006 to 2009 and from 23 January to 10 November 2019). In his numerous interviews, Luis Arce focused on the fact that he worked in the government of Evo Morales and intends to continue the line of the “Movement to Socialism” party, however, he will try to get rid of the tendency towards “evismo” (Spanish – “evismo” from “Evo Morales”).

The “Movement to Socialism” candidate has repeatedly stressed that his government’s plan is primarily based on economic recovery and job creation. Unlike the transitional government of Jeanine Áñez (Spanish – Jeanine Áñez Chávez), Arce intends to continue the line of his party, aimed at “taking responsibility from the state” for enterprises connected with the country’s energy sector. According to the president-elect, the continuation of the policy of nationalizing large energy enterprises will reduce tariffs for electricity, gas and fuel for Bolivians.

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Proceedings of the Chamber of Senators of the Bolivian Plurinational Legislative Assembly, February 2020.

Arce’s economic policy plan and “the commitment to continue to develop science and technology, which are the basis for a quantum leap and development of the economic citadel” are among the main elements of the strategy of Morales’ party – Patriotic Agenda 2025. According to Luis Arce, the development of science and technology is key to increasing the country’s productivity.

One of the first measures of the Arce government sees the implementation of the idea of ​​introducing “Hunger bond”, a bill previously approved by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly aimed at alleviating the economic consequences of the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. Arce suggests that this payout should be the equivalent of 1,000 boliviano ($ 144). At the same time, the winner of the electoral process proposes to start the reconstruction of production, which was also influenced by the measures taken by the transitional government.

In the field of culture, the candidate from the “Movement to Socialism” party proposes, first of all, to return a separate ministry again. Earlier, in June 2020, the transitional government of Áñez decided to include this department in the Ministry of Education, in connection with the savings in the state budget against the background of the fight against coronavirus. Luis Arce intends to re-establish the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and to focus on promoting Bolivia as a tourist destination. In addition, Arce expresses readiness to focus on the “protection of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage” of the country and to develop appropriate legislative instruments in this area.

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The elected President of Bolivia – Luis Arce Catacora and the Vice President – David Choquehuanca.

Luis Arce also announced the continuation of the foreign policy course of the “Movement to Socialism”. He sees one of the tasks of changing the direction of Bolivia’s foreign policy to restore relations with countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. In an interview with the newspaper “Página 7” on October 20, he stated: “We are going to restore all relations. The transitional government acted from a very ideological point of view, depriving the Bolivian people of access to Cuban and Russian medicine, achievements in China”. Arce expresses readiness “to open doors for all countries, the only requirement is respect for Bolivia and its sovereignty”. Regarding the OAS, the “Movement to Socialism” candidate has repeatedly stated that his party has always condemned the organization’s crucial role in the alleged coup d’état last November following the announcement of the October 20, 2019 election results. Arce emphasizes that the OAS made a mistake in deciding to interfere in the internal affairs of Bolivia. Luis Arce focuses on the fact that he intends to implement wide coverage in regional and international projections, based on the most open government in all areas of international relations with countries, with organizations that respect the sovereignty of his country.

The elected head of state intends to continue the “line” of the political platform of the former President Evo Morales. Whether he will succeed in performing the “economic miracle” of Bolivia, which is attributed to him during the presidency of Morales, and pacifying the country, the very near future will show. In the meantime, a number of international media continue to project the political future of the former president of Bolivia, according to official statements by Evo Morales, he will return to the country the day after the inauguration of Luis Arce. Bolivia faces a new historical period, less than two weeks away from the start.

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