Eduardo, in Bolivia, reports that, with 80% of the votes counted, there is a chance that Evo Morales has reached 50%.
Even if he is ‘merely’ in the 40s–MABB reports an exit poll projection of 45%–it would be a record for any candidate since the restoration of democracy in the early 1980s, and would ensure that congress could not realistically opt for the runner up. And it could double (or more) what former president Gonzalo SÃ¡nchez de Losada won in 2002–SÃ¡nchez de Losada was the leading candidate in that election.
Democracy Center reports that Tuto Quiroga has (sort of) conceded.
The exit poll projection noted above has Quiroga at 33%. If that held up, it would be higher than any of the pre-election polls pegged his support to be (and about where most of them had Morales). Yet it would put Quiroga 12 percentage points behind Morales! If accurate, it would make Bolivia–long, and increasingly, one of the more fragmented democracies in the region–almost a two-party system. That would be almost as stunning as a large Morales plurality.
I have followed elections for a long time–worldwide, but Bolivia is one country I have paid a bit more than average attention to. It is rare that an election outcome truly stuns me. And we should be careful, because this is not an “outcome” yet. But if it is true that Morales is anywhere near half the votes, this is a real stunner.
Jim Shultz and his colleagues offer some interesting reflections, prior to the results, on election day. I want one of these, which every voter gets:
a commemorative pocket sized calendar from the National Electoral Court. The calendar card features a picture of a red, yellow and green tropical bird with its wings spread. A large pair of silver scissors is poised open around one of the birds wings ready to chop it off. In small print it reads, â€œA country without democracy is like a bird with clipped wings.â€ If you miss the writing, which I watched several people do, the picture is quite disturbing, especially as a reward for voting.
MABB has some photos, the second of which will rekindle up fears in some quarters of an Axis of Marxism. (I still think that’s over-wrought, but it looks like I was wrong that a Morales presidency would have no significant electoral mandate.)