The General elections in Bolivia are taking place this Sunday calmly and with a large influx of voters amid biosecurity measures in the face of the covid-19 pandemic, after an electoral campaign that evidenced the deep polarization that still exists in the country since the elections of a year ago were annulled.
Unlike 2019, when Bolivians went to the polls in a climate of political tension after various protests against what was feared would happen, the alleged fraud and the questioned candidacy of then-president Evo MoralesThis time the country reported a part of the day calm and without incidents.
Acting President Jeanine Áñez encouraged Bolivians to go to the polls and guaranteed that some 35,000 police and military who have been deployed throughout the country they will monitor the development of the general elections. In them the president and vice president will be elected and the Legislative will be renewed for the next five years.
“We have an electoral day that is passing in peace,” said the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Salvador Romero, at a press conference in La Paz.
Since the day started in the nine departments of the country, with some delays in the openings of some of the tablesExtensive lines have been reported in the voting precincts, which Romero explained is because “the voting procedure is a little slower than usual but the vote is flowing.”
In some rural areas of Bolivia, riots, traffic jams and long lines of voters were reported Without respecting biosecurity measures, the authorities were overwhelmed. Voting abroad has followed the same normality as in Bolivia, with the closure of polling stations in Asia and Europe.
For these elections, the first to be held in Latin America in the midst of the pandemic, more polling stations were set up, 5,134 polling stations in total, which opened at 08:00 local time and will operate for nine hours uninterrupted until 17:00, when schools are expected to close.
Evo Morales, in Argentina
These elections this Sunday have been described as “historical” before the absence for the first time in 18 years of Evo Morales as a candidate for president, who for almost a year lives in Buenos Aires and serves as campaign manager for his party, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS). In brief statements, he celebrated the “democratic and peaceful spirit” of the day and asked voters not to fall “into any kind of provocation.”
The former president, who cannot vote due to the disqualification that he himself defines “for political reasons,” pointed out that “given so much rumor” about what he will do, he wanted to clarify that his priority “is exclusively the recovery of democracy.” Some 7.3 million Bolivians are entitled to vote, of which 301,631 are registered abroad and 47% of them in Argentina, where some 450,000 Bolivians officially reside.
The first of the candidates to exercise their right to vote was Luis Arde, MAS candidate, who was confident that his party will return to power in Bolivia with a victory at the polls, in front of others whom he accused of having taken him “by arms.” Morales’ formation is a favorite in the polls, although with the question of whether he will be able to win in the first round or would go to a second possibly with the Citizen Community of Carlos Mesa.
Former president Mesa, who once again arrives at this electoral appointment in search of the presidency, cast his vote in La Paz and later said that Bolivia is experiencing a “fundamental moment” in order to emerge from the crisis. The third in the polls, the former civic leader and candidate for Creemos, Luis Fernando Camacho, called for transparency and “consolidating” the democratic process after casting his vote in Santa Cruz, the largest city in Bolivia and its electoral stronghold.
The announcement of the Bolivian electoral body of dispense with the Preliminary Results Dissemination system (DIREPRE), so as not to generate «uncertainty» and that it will only work with official results, it generated divided opinions among the candidates and the population. A few hours before starting the voting day, the president of the TSE explained that “when there is no certainty and sufficient volume of information,” it is better to remove that count.
In this regard, Luis Arce recalled that his party had questioned the reliability of the preliminary counting system and that for that reason it will have its own. For his part, Mesa regretted the decision, but understood that “the path has been chosen to guarantee the absolute security of the vote and, above all, the official count.”
The decision of the electoral body was endorsed by the main international missions present in the country to observe the elections. The candidates followed the development of the day from their campaign headquarters and expected that the official results of the elections will be known no later than next Tuesday.