In Bolivia, the MAS outlived Evo Morales and he won without him

Analysis. Sunday, October 18, the ballot box spoke: the candidate of the Movement towards Socialism (MAS), Luis Arce, was elected president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in the first round. Evo Morales’ former economy minister wins with 55.1% of the vote, according to official and final figures released Friday morning only. While participation exceeds 88%, this result is not a victory, it is a plebiscite. His right-wing rival, Carlos Mesa (Comunidad ciudadana), who wanted to represent the “Useful vote” against the MAS, is far behind, with 28.83%. Even if the far-right candidate, Luis Fernando Camacho (14%), had withdrawn from the race to block the MAS, that would not have been enough to counter Mr. Arce.

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How to explain these results, while the MAS was said to be unable to survive President Evo Morales, accused of fraud after the election of October 20, 2019, released by the police and the army, and forced to resign and take refuge in Argentina ? President and party leader, Mr. Morales had never organized his succession and himself did not conceive that there could be any other candidate than himself.

The campaign of the candidates of the right was not made on their program, but on the demonization of a party designated as a “narcoterrorist” force

This election proved him wrong. The MAS can not only survive him, it can also win without him. The ballot shows that a majority of Bolivians want to continue the model of economic growth and inclusion of Indigenous people applied for fourteen years by Evo Morales. But without Evo Morales.

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The reasons for this victory are not only inherent in the fact that the MAS, deprived of its historic leader – who nevertheless remained the campaign leader from Buenos Aires, 2,500 km away -, succeeded in renewing itself, highlighting young leaders such as Andronico Rodriguez (31 years old) or Eva Copa (33 years old), and breaking with a sometimes patronage practice of politics.

Luis Arce’s final victory can also be explained by a right-wing campaign focusing on the rejection of the MAS and by the disaster of the eleven months of management of the transitional government of the president, Jeanine AƱez.

Nepotism and corruption scandals

Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho did not campaign on their platform, which Bolivians know little about, but on the demonization of a designated party as a force “Narcoterrorist”, wasting public resources, corrupt and authoritarian. However, this image clashed with the experience of a large part of the population, whose level and quality of life have improved considerably under Evo Morales (growth, reduction in poverty and unemployment, reduction in inequalities, etc.).

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