Thursday, August 14, 2008

Results Show Morales Landslide; What Next?

The results from Sunday's referenda are nearly complete (with the exception being Santa Cruz state, where, mysteriously, the rural votes--where Morales has the bulk of his support--are curiously incomplete; remember, the state is ruled by the opposition to Morales, and they might have a stake in not counting votes for Morales). To put it simply, Morales had a stunning victory, picking up 14 points over his margin of victory in 2005. The opposition is left holding an empty bag and cannot claim that Morales does not represent the democratic voice of the people. (Chart to right compares Morales' vote percentages in 2005 and last Sunday; from the Bolivia Information Forum.)

But interestingly, with the exceptions of the governors of
Cochabamba and La Paz states, the opposition has strengthened its hand--particularly in the Media Luna region where it has been seeking autonomy. What does this mean? A bumpy road ahead. Both sides have come out intact, with Morales apparently a little stronger after this contest. But his reforms--particularly the drafting of a new constitution--will continue to fracture the country. The opposition, while not celebrating the downfall of the president that it was seeking, isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and its "autonomy" drive will certainly continue. But international support (outside of Latin America, which has been stalwartly supporting Morales and is a large obstacle to overcome for the Media Luna to overcome if it wants to ship its resources out of this landlocked country without federal support (see: Lula in Brazil and Kirchner in Argentina)) will likely coalesce around Morales in the near future, stifling demands from the Media Luna. (Second chart shows gubernatorial referenda results, same source.)

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