As we have mentioned before, the presidential elections have been pushed back many times until now the final date has been set for October 18, 2020. Even amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there have been events and campaigning. During the months of Sept and Aug, it has been relatively calm because everything has been leading up to this moment. The Oct 18 election. It is a big moment in the history of Bolivia as it will determine which direction the country will go. The MAS political group is determined that Bolivia will become like the next Cuba. Their desire is to see banished ex-president Evo Morales return to power and support continual push towards Communism.
The US department of state security describes the situation well. “The first round of the election will occur on October 18, although the entire process is likely to extend for next several months. In order to avoid a run-off, the leading candidate must win either 50% of the vote, or 40% of the vote with a lead of 10% over the runner-up. Current polling suggests that this outcome is unlikely, meaning that we can expect a run-off election between the top two candidates on November 29. Inauguration Day, traditionally held in late January, is a hard deadline for the transfer of power. In the case of a contested election, or if there are alleged irregularities in either October or November, the electoral commission will likely try to resolve them by the end of the calendar year” .
Currently, seven candidates are running, although only three have significant support. Polling in first place with around 30% of the vote, Luis Arce represents the left-wing Movement for Socialism (MAS), Evo Morales’s political party. Throughout September, Arce looked to have enough support to win in the first round without a run-off, but since interim president Jeanine Áñez dropped out of the race three weeks ago, Arce’s lead has shrunken to below the 10% threshold. Comunidad Ciudadana’s moderate
candidate, Carlos Mesa, currently hovers at around 25% in polling, and right-wing Creemos’s Fernando Camacho polls third at 13%. Polls suggest that if the elections go to a run-off, many of the smaller political
parties will rally around Carlos Mesa as a main challenger to Arce. This frames the election as a referendum on last year’s ouster of Morales and the legitimacy of his MAS Party, which maintains a strong plurality even as the majority of voters oppose it. Internal divisions within MAS over party
leadership concessions to the Áñez government also threaten the historic dominance of the party.
The security concerns are at a higher level than normal. Large protests and possible violent outburst are very likely according to the US Embassy in Bolivia. MAS leaders and followers have not been afraid to resort to violence in the past and are prepared to take action if their candidate doesn’t win the election. “There will be massive down hall meetings as well as protests, strikes, and roadblocks related to a variety of issues. The duration of these possible protests is unknown. U.S. citizen residents and travelers should be prepared for potential grocery and gas shortages.” – US Embassy.
We have prepared the best we can. We have bought extra food, gas, a gas generator, and water to last us a few weeks. We hope it won’t last longer than that but it is really unknown at this point. We take comfort we are in the hands of our Sovereign God who reigns and is working all things out to His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). Please hold Bolivia in your prayers.