Evo’s constitutional mandate widens

Prensa Latina has the goods:

After 99.7 percent votes counted, the MAS won 139 of 255 Assembly seats with support from opposition pillars like Santa Cruz and Tarija provinces.

The MAS could run up to 151 seats counting 12 from allied parties like Movimiento Bolivia Libre (MBL), Movimiento Ciudadano San Felipe de Austria (MCSFA) and Movimiento Originario Popular (MOP).

That’s up from the 133 seats I blogged on earlier. It’s still short of the 2/3 majority needed for outright approval of a new constitution. Here’s Jim Shultz of the Democracy Center’s Blog from Bolivia (which I read now and again; you should, too) to explain the results of the recent voting:

First, as a measure of popular support for Bolivia’s various political parties, it means voters are pretty much exactly where they were in December. MAS [Movement Toward Socialism, Evo Morales’s party] holds basically the same strong majority (53% now, 53,7% in December), Jorge Quirga’s PODEMOS is a distant second and lost five points (23.5% now, 28.6% in December) and Samuel Doria Medina’s UN party still runs a very distant third and also lost support (4.3% now, 7.8% in December).

It is also a pretty good indication that PODEMOS’ strategy, of running against Hugo Chavez instead of for any concrete vision for Bolivia’s future, well, it didn’t work at all. Back to the drawing boards for Quiroga and his campaign consultants.

More importantly, it still means that Bolivia will navigate its political way forward through negotiation. Evo Morales and MAS doesn’t have a working majority in the Congress sufficient to do much of want it wants on its own (the convening of the Assembly vote was itself a party-to-party negotiation, which is why political parties ran the show) and it won’t have the 2/3 vote required to take action on a new constitution in the Assembly. In other words, whatever happens in the Assembly, and with the implementation of autonomy, will be a negotiation among the political parties.

Negotiation is pretty much what all Bolivian politics is about these days. The government has set a six-month period for renegotiating its contracts with foreign oil companies. It has been negotiating with unions and others over what to do with the collapsing airline, LAB. It is negotiating on land, on teacher salaries, and on a wide range of other issues.

In other words, for those looking for Bolivia to turn into a one party state with authoritarian rule, you just won’t find it here. In its place you will find something else, a democracy with many players and a lot of complicated issues to talk through. For a country that had endured far more than its share of dictatorships, that’s not a bad thing at all, not by a long shot.

No, it’s not bad in the least. It’s a move in the right direction. A movement towards socialism? Well, maybe–a gradual one. But as confidence in Evo’s judgment grows (guided by the voice of experience, coming from Hugo Chavez), good things should happen.

After all, Evo has vision going for him. That’s more than you can say for his biggest rival.

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One Response to Evo’s constitutional mandate widens

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    Great info Bina. Your doing a great job by focusing on information that there is a bit of a dearth of on left blogs.
    On my part, I am a bit habituated in my focus on Ven. and now Mexico. Indeed, this is a victory for the left in Bolivia, despite the fact that they did not get the two-thirds necessry to push through their most favorable conditions.

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