The nearly 7.3 million Bolivians called to the polls began to vote this Sunday to elect a new president and vice president, almost a year after the indigenous leader Evo Morales resigned amid a social upheaval stemming from allegations of fraud in the elections.
The vote, in which the leftist Luis Arce -of Morales’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party- and the centrist former president Carlos Mesa appear as favorites, officially began at 8:00 local time (12h00 GMT) and will last nine hours, a longer day than in 2019 due to the health measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The electorate will also elect 130 deputies and 36 senators to renew the bicameral Congress.
The first results are expected to take a long time to be known, after the Supreme Electoral Tribunal suspended the quick count system on Saturday night.
The court justified this decision due to the lack of guarantees that the results offered by this system coincide with the official data.
“We have prioritized the certainty of the results,” said the president of the TSE, Salvador Romero, at the opening of the election day, which was attended by the interim president, the right-wing Jeanine Áñez.
The TSE’s decision was supported by international observers from the OAS, the UN, the EU and the Uniore, as well as by Carlos Mesa’s Citizen Community party. However, the MAS and the Creemos Alliance, of the far-right candidate Fernando Camacho, repudiated the measure.
Arce, Morales’s dolphin considered the architect of the economic miracle in almost 14 years of the MAS government, appears first in the intention of the vote, but it is most likely that he will face former President Mesa (2003-2005) in the ballot on 29 November.
The elections are held almost a year after Morales’ resignation, on November 10, 2019, amid allegations of fraud. The social and political upheaval that was generated left more than 30 dead, 800 injured and looted.
Today I ask everyone, regardless of any political difference, to vote in a peaceful way and with Bolivia and democracy in mind.#ElectionsBolivia2020
— Jeanine Añez Chavez (@JeanineAnez) October 18, 2020
Faced with fears that these violent episodes will happen again, a feeling of uncertainty has remained among the population.
“I don’t really know what’s going to happen, I’m afraid the worst will happen. There are comments from politicians that scare people, ”said Virginia Luna, 41, at the Agustín Aspiazu school in La Paz, where she arrived very early to be one of the first to vote.
– Agustin Mojica (@Viasuti) October 18, 2020