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Return of the socialists: On the victory of Evo Morales’s party in Bolivia

  • 22 October, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

Return of the socialists: On the victory of Evo Morales’s party in Bolivia


  • Preliminary results of Sunday’s Presidential election in Bolivia point to an emphatic victory for the former President Evo Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party almost a year after he was ousted by protesters and the military.


  • This is as much a victory for Mr. Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, as it is for Mr. Arce.
  • Mr. Morales left the country, first for Mexico and then for Argentina, after the Generals asked him to stand down in November 2019.
  • Since then, Jeanine Añez, a right-wing conservative Senator, has been the acting President, rolling back many of Mr. Morales’s policies and going after his supporters.
  • But MAS mobilised its supporters and fought back.
  • Mr. Arce promised voters that if elected, he would carry forward the pro-poor socialist legacy of Mr. Morales, while MAS portrayed Mr. Mesa as a representative of the pre-Morales elites, whose rapid privatisation and pro-market policies had triggered frequent mass protests.

Achievements of socialist regime in Bolivia:

  • The results demonstrate that the voters chose the equity-oriented socialist stability, which MAS offered, over the free-market conservatism of its rivals.
  • Mr. Morales is credited with turning around South America’s poorest country economically.
  • Under his government, Bolivia saw a drop in extreme poverty, from 33% of the population in 2006 to 15% in 2018.
  • He also stepped up public investments, opened more schools and health clinics, built roads and nationalised the oil and gas industry, all while ensuring that the economy continued to expand.
  • These policies helped MAS build a strong connect with the poor, a base which continued to back the party despite last year’s political turbulence.

Morales actions that led to coup like situation in 2019:

  • At the same time, Morales push to stay in power beyond the term limits set by the Constitution helped the Opposition organise itself.
  • He got the ban lifted by a constitutional court after his bid failed in a referendum.
  • This raised questions about the legitimacy of his candidacy in the October 2019 election, which he won but was accused of fraud, leading to protests and his ouster.


  • Mr. Arce’s biggest challenge would be to continue Mr. Morales’s welfare policies, while keeping the battered economy on track.
  • Moreover, the anti-Socialist and mostly white opposition is now more powerful, after ousting Mr. Morales and having run the interim government for a year with the U.S.’s support.
  • Mr. Arce can keep the galvanised opposition at bay only by continuing MAS’s socio-economic “revolution” to expand its support base in a divided country.

Source: TH


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