A Peaceful Election
The voting sites were open as of 7:30 am Sunday, December 6th. All day voters have been attending regularly and no incidents were declared. A party for democracy that is different from all the previous ones in many ways. Let’s see:
1. The candidate for Movement Towards Socialism (MAS by its Spanish name), Evo Morales, arrived in the presidency on January 22nd , 2006 and his term will conclude one year earlier than its constitutional period of five years. Negotiations with the opposition to adjust the new Constitution opened the door so that Morales could reduce his period and have the possibility to be reelected for a five year period.
2. The first period of the president, who was elected in 2005 with 54% of the voting, was marked by confrontations with the opposition who banned the change project being implemented by MAS. The first law that the Executive sent to the Congress was the call for the Constituent Assembly, which opened in August 6th 2006 in Sucre. The new Constitution was born 30 months later, within a cruel siege carried out by government followers, five dead people and racist incidents that lead the government to flee to Oruro, and approve the Constitution in two days, without the opposition and without the inclusion of articles that were negotiated before.
3. Vicepresident Garcia Linera said that in 2007 and 2008 the official political project has burned out the opposition completely. President Morales affirmed in four occasions that he came to the power to “stay there for life”, although later he cleared up his statement saying that the people of the social movements (who conform the militia that sieges cities, the congress, the assembly, etc. through the use of guerrilla tactics), are the ones to stay forever. Results of today’s voting will show if the opposition is still strong and has the effective and real power to participate in the new legislation assembly. If the opposition loses badly, the vice president will be proven right and opposition leaders will be buried.
4. The new Constitution states that government officers must be elected by more than 50%, or by 40% and an advantage of more than 10 points over the runner up. In case no one reaches this results, a second round will take place in two weeks, like never before.
5. 136 Plurinational Assembly officers (36 Senators and 130 members) will be elected. 70 of them will be elected directly through circumscriptions called “uninominales” that allow for the member to be elected directly. Seven of the future Assembly members will be indigenous in origin and peasants from all states, except Potosí and Chuquisaca.
6. The Senate will adopt a new distribution system: D’Holm, which is used for assigning membership of “plurinominales”, who are members not receiving direct voting.
7. Five states will go to referendums to choose autonomy or not: La Paz, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Oruro and Potosí.
8. Twelve municipal counties will be indigenous and autonomous after today’s voting. The Chaco province in the state of Tarija (where natural gas is located), will be able to go for the autonomy of the province.
9. Today’s election will be held to choose the first administration to run the state under the new Constitution approved on February 7th, 2009.
10. Out of 3,6 million Bolivian migrants to the US, Spain, Argentina and Brazil, 211,000 people as a maximum will be able to vote in foreign countries for the first time. They will only choose president and vice president. The US has 11,000 people registered to vote. Argentina has 90,000 voters. Spain has 50,000 voters and Brazil has around 8,000 people registered.
Later today, in two hours, we will know about the results of the voting. People have behaved really well, and everyone expects Evo Morales to win. Just how big he will win, will be reported by me in some minutes.