The Bolivian Electoral Court has confirmed that the next round of elections are scheduled for August 12. This first step towards more local government participation will be another test of the strength of the citizens’ groups and political parties. These should be interesting to gauge progress from the various political parties and to find out whether the citizens’ groups have more influence outside of their municipalities.
Will Evo’s MAS party fall on its face after its policy of blockades and blackmail caused a lot of disfavor in the cities? Now that the elections will be department-wide, the rural progress and support will likely be squashed by the disdain in the cities. Will Evo be able to claim to be the number one political force in the country? Or will it be the continued emergence of citizens’ groups and possible alliances that become this new force?
El Alto’s Mayor Jose Luis Paredes (PP) has confirmed that they will participate in the Department of La Paz’s elections and possibly even in Oruro and Potosi. The popular La Paz Mayor Juan del Granado (MSM) will also branch out.
The national head of the Movimiento Sin Miedo and La Paz Mayor said that his party will participate in the prefect elections and did not rule out presenting candidates in the nine departments, with possible alliances with the citizens’ groups or with political parties that identify themselves with the transformation of the left, but “never with the traditional parties.”
These alliances could be key as there has not been any real change in the way politics and elections are carried out. In the end, no one candidate is likely to achieve the 50% + 1 to win outright. As we have seen at the national and municipal levels, backdoor wheeling and dealing and the exchange of patronage will likely be the norm, which would a shame. These elections should have been a clear victory for democracy and local autonomy, but as it has been all along, it’s about the battle and struggle for power and how that power is gained.