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Unofficial results from last Sunday’s election in Bolivia provide a glimpse at how the Constituent Assembly and calls for departmental autonomy may shape up for the rest of the year. Bolivians took to the polls to elect 255 representatives to write the country’s new Constitution, which will convene in early August, as well as determine whether the nine departments (state-like units of government) will receive more autonomy. Unofficial results from a scan of the Bolivian blogosphere also reveals that this election was one of the most blogged about events in recent months.
On a national level, the autonomy question failed, with approximately 53% of the population voting “No.” This figure paralleled the amount of vote that the Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS) received in the December elections. However, in four of the nine departments, the “Yes” side emerged victorious, some in resounding fashion. This constrast reinforces the position that the country still remains sharply divided. This map, provided by Briegel Busch and his blog Bolivia Eclipse [ES], shows a sharp division between Orient and Occident. Martin P. Gutierrez, living in Buenos Aires, states in his blog Vitrina de Realidad Boliviana [ES] that Bolivia loses once again. The contrast of regions indicates such a divide and that it is unfortunate, that its own President divides the country even more with his statements and rhetoric. Carlos Hugo Quintanilla, who writes at El Quintacho [ES] thinks this division is personally a bit troubling,
“Nationwide, the NO vote won and it seems to me that a NO to a united Bolivia, and now I see my country divided into two and I don’t like it. I am still here in my corner dreaming of a nation where all of us see ourselves and feel equal.”
One blogger, Ergoth’s Isabella Fuente, was surprised by the vote and was especially disappointed in the result in the department of Cochabamba, which she thought would vote in favor of increased autonomy. Many bloggers like Isabella publically announced their vote of a “Yes”, as well as Gustavo Siles at Almada de Noche [ES] and Evonomics’[ES] Antonio Saravia, however, all currently live outside the country, as there was no mechanism for ex-pats to vote. In his blog Ágora [ES], Carlos Hugo Molina, ex-Prefect ( regional governor) of Santa Cruz, also stated that he would vote for “Yes”. Questions still remain whether the fact that the question passed in four of the departments will make the referendum binding in those regions, regardless that it failed on a national level. Jaime Humérez Seleme of Boliviscopio [ES] reviews the language contained in the convocation law.
President Evo Morales’ MAS party hoped to receive 2/3 of the 255 seats at the table to rewrite the Constitution. Such a result would guarantee that all of that party would control the Assembly, as it takes 2/3 majority to alter the Constitution. Now, as Miguel Esquirol at El Forastero [ES] writes, that this result means that “there needs to be negotiations with the other representatives to write the Constitution” and many think that this is a good thing.
Unofficially MAS received 55% of the seats, while the second strongest force, PODEMOS led by former President Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga logged approximately 24% of the seats. These two parties accounted for the majority of representatives, with the next party, MNR, only will count on approximately 7% of the seats. Miguel Centellas summarizes the seat breakdown by department and party in his blog Ciao! The remaining representatives come from a variety of “minor parties”, which will also play a role in the consensus building and negotiations. Centellas also highlights many of these “minor parties”, including a look at the major actor, past electoral participation and likely alliances.
Election day is a very special time where one’s finger is marked with a colored dye indicating one’s completed civic duty. Javier Rodríguez, a Cochabambino (from the valley city of Cochabamba) reviews how he spent his election day from voting early in the morning with members of his family to scanning the Electoral Court’s website for in-depth results in the early morning hours of the following Monday. His blog is called Diario de un Demente Frustrado [ES]. During the election, Business and Politics in Bolivia's Jonathan Olguin reported that the Bolivian News Agency controlled by the government violated Article 120 of the Electoral Code, whch prohibits the release of any exit polls prior to 6 pm.
Another election in the books and Rolando Lopez of Rocko Weblog feels a bit optimistic even though the future is unknown. “No one knows what comes next and very few dare to predict, this is the highest point of a nation’s path of democratic change. We are witnessing the birth of a new Bolivia. Soon it will be 25 years since the return to democracy yet it is only the beginning. We must look to the future with hope and with the assurance that we are following the right path.”