|President Evo Morales has been re-elected for the third
time since the Socialism Movement (MAS) came to power in
2006, and support for MAS is still enormous. The government
is embarking on a new five-year period in 2015.
election held in October 2014 confirmed the MAS government's
strong support in Bolivia after eight years in power, with
61.36 per cent of the vote. MAS and Morales won the business
summit Samuel Doria Medina, with the National Unity Party
(UN) with 24.23 percent of the vote and former President
Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC)
with 9.04 percent. The Green Party with Indigenous Peoples
Leader from TIPNIS Fernando Vargas as Presidential candidate
and the Movement without Fear (MSM) with former La Paz Mayor
Juan del Granado as candidate both got under three percent
of the vote and ended up under the barricade.
With these results, MAS retains two-thirds majority in
Congress, winning eight of the nine counties in total. Three
parties are represented in parliament, MAS with 25 senators
and 88 MPs, and the two right-wing parties UN with 9 and 32
and PDC with 2 and 10 representatives respectively. MAS was
founded in 2001 and is a collection of social movements of
indigenous groups, small farmers, the trade union movement
and parts of the middle class. Nearly half of the MPs are
now women. The election also became a political and symbolic
victory in that MAS won the low-lying Santa Cruz town, where
the opposition previously stood strong, after MAS signed
several agreements with parts of the agricultural sector in
Eight year state-building project
The election campaign focused on the country's economy
and growth, after eight years of economic nationalism,
strengthening the state, high commodity prices and
macroeconomic stability. The government has given priority
to public administration, natural resource management, and
social programs. At the same time, the MAS government has
been heavily involved in technological innovation as part of
a state-building project. This has included the popular
gondola lift linking La Paz and the highland village of El
Alto, the satellite Tupac Katari, the launch of Cochabamba
as the "knowledge city", the controversial proposal for the
use of nuclear power, as well as infrastructure development
with both road construction, hydropower and airports.
MAS has launched a new twelve-point plan until 2020 which
- Reducing extreme poverty.
- Universalization of basic services such as water,
electricity and gas connections for households.
- Housing, health and education.
- Technological revolution, including nuclear power as
a source of energy.
- Industrialization of the oil and gas industry, as
well as investment of USD 800 million in the lithium
- Strengthen the agricultural sector and food
- Water and irrigation projects.
- Infrastructure development with roads, trains and
- Programs such as pensions.
- Security and combating drug traffic.
- Fight corruption and strengthen the justice system.
- Internationally, MAS will focus on "people's
diplomacy", anti-imperialism, reform of the UN, a new
international financial infrastructure, access to the
sea, protection of the Coca leaf and indigenous rights.
While the first reign of MAS (2006-2009) was
characterized by a gathering on the left and the
constitutional project, the second period (2009-2014) has
been more marked by divisions among those who got MAS to
power initially. The first period of the MAS government was
marked by polarization between those supporting the MAS
project and the high-political business elite who made a
number of unsuccessful attempts to delegitimize the MAS
government. The opposition has consisted of the traditional
parties in Bolivia and leaders of the lowland counties in
the so-called "crescent": Pando, Tarija, Beni, Santa Cruz
and Chuquisaca. The economic elite has been represented by
so-called citizen committees linked to large landowners,
commercial agriculture and the banking sector. However, the
opposition was fragmented and failed to significantly
challenge the MAS government.
However, during the second government period from
2010-2014, the MAS government faced a number of internal
challenges. With MAS in position, state revenues have
increased significantly and more and more groups are
struggling to get part of these funds. The various movements
no longer fight against a common enemy, the right side and
the business elite, and are divided into issues of martial
law. Some are closely linked to the governing party and have
great confidence in the MAS project, while others have lost
patience and demand faster and more profound reforms.
In recent years, the government has entered into
agreements with former enemies, such as the agrobusiness
elite in the lowlands, to ensure the country's food security
and agricultural production. The latter also marked the
result of the 2014 election, where support from the
low-lying village of Santa Cruz has increased significantly.
At the same time, migration from the highlands to the
lowlands has also affected the political landscape, where
land reform from 2006 has distributed land to highland
migrants, many of whom support MAS's change project. At the
same time, the government has increased its presence in the
lowlands and border areas with the help of the state
development organization Ademaf and military in areas the
state previously had little control over.
At the same time, the MAS government has faced a number
of challenges and protests in recent years. This also says
something about how civil society groups are still
protesting and taking to the streets in disagreements, while
the opposition is trying to take advantage of the conflicts.
The media sector, which is largely owned by private players
and the right side, has done its best to try to intensify
the conflicts. Only one of the top twelve largest
communications companies in Bolivia supports President
Morales. Among those who have left the MAS change project
are also a number of intellectuals who believe the process
has not led to profound changes, but rather a number of
disappointments. Focus on natural resource extraction and
infrastructure development has created local conflicts, and
other protests have arisen because of the introduction of
tax for mining cooperatives, extended working hours for
health workers, unfavorable conditions for transport workers
and distribution of resources at the local level. In 2011,
MAS experienced its first national crisis with the so-called
"el gazolinazo" with protests against cuts in fuel
subsidies, and later came strong reactions to the police
action that was carried out against the so-called TIPNIS
march in September 2011. MAS reaps criticism from parts of
the left for favoring indigenous peoples and peasants from
the highlands, lowering the environment and over-reliance on
the extractive sector.