By Alexia Rauen and Alexandra Snodgrass
Bolivia will hold presidential elections on October 18, 2020, after numerous delays and an interim unelected presidency after the October 2019 elections. The nation’s former president, Evo Morales, who ruled land-locked Bolivia from 2006 to 2019, will not be running after a dramatic resignation. Instead, the election pits Luis Arce, the candidate of Morales’s party, against the ex-president Carlos Mesa.
Bolivia had previously limited presidents to two consecutive terms. However, in 2013, Morales was able to run for a third term after it was found that the introduction of a new constitution in 2009 made his first term moot for counting purposes. In 2016, a referendum on whether or not to change the constitution to allow Morales to run again failed to yield results in his favor. This was reversed by Bolivia’s Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, who ruled that term limits no longer existed for any elected official. Morales announced his candidacy for the 2019 Bolivian presidential elections in May of 2019. Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States (OAS), stated that given the tribunal’s ruling, Morales should be allowed to run. The election was held in October of 2019, and Morales needed a 10-point lead in order to prevent a runoff election. When Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal released results with 83% of the vote counted, Morales was in the lead – but not enough to prevent a runoff. Then, the website went dark, and when it returned, Morales had won by just over 10 points. The OAS released a report on November 10, 2019 that found the election’s “process was contrary to best practices and failed to abide by security standards … Given the irregularities observed, it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the data and certify the accuracy of the results.” The post-election public outrage led to weeks of protests and Morales’s resignation.