Five hours from the close of the elections, the first exit polls resulted in a beating of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) in Bolivia. The Unitel channel released what until then was just a rumor: a beating of Luis Arce with 52 percent of the vote, compared to 31.5 percent of Carlos Mesa, his main opponent. In parallel and in a delayed official vote count, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) had barely relieved four percent of the official records. Polls which are always announced from 8:00 p.m. in Bolivia (21 in Argentina) were conspicuous by their absence for several hours, which generated suspicion and great discomfort from voters on social networks.
On Sunday night, the TSE asked “patience” to wait for the results while the first results of the MAS count gave, unofficially, a victory for Arce in the first round. This information was confirmed around one in the morning by former President Evo Morales at a press conference from Buenos Aires. In a generally uneventful day, although always tense due to the cinematic police and military deployment of the de facto government, Bolivians were hoping to go to sleep meeting their new president almost a year after the coup d’état perpetrated against Evo Morales. Although the confirmation of the TSE will now subtract in a count that will take days, the trend seems irreversible.
After nine hours of voting that passed normally, a slow dissemination of results was expected after the TSE suspended its quick counting system just hours before the elections. After twelve and from a hotel in Buenos Aires, the former president Evo Morales held a press conference to announce the first results of the MAS polls. “There has been a victory for the MAS. Furthermore, the MAS will have the majority in both chambers, “he said. Morales added that after an arduous struggle,” Today we have recovered democracy and the homeland. We will regain stability and progress, we will regain peace!“, he exclaimed before the journalists who waited several hours in a hotel in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Balvanera.
The recognition of the coup leader Añez
The coup leader Jeanine Áñez congratulated the MAS candidates Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca for their victory in the first round of the general elections, as soon as the quick count of Ciesmori was known.
He clarified that the official results were not yet known, “but based on the data we have, Mr. Arce and Mr. Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind ”.
According to data from Ciesmori for Unitel, Arce won the elections in the first round with 52.4%, according to the exit data. In second place is Carlos Mesa from Comunidad Ciudadana (CC) with 31.5% and Luis Fernando Camacho from Creemos is in third place with 14.1%.
Áñez had anticipated that he would respect the outcome of the elections, regardless of who is going to win them. In different acts, as a candidate and de facto president, she harshly attacked the MAS and Evo Morales throughout the campaign.
The de facto president of Bolivia had asked earlier citizens and political parties have “patience” and “maturity” to wait for the official results of the general elections held on this day.
The transitory president made that call in a televised message in which she was accompanied by the acting ministers of the Presidency, Yerko Núñez; of Defense, Luis Fernando López; and Government (Interior), Arturo Murillo; in addition to the commanders of the Armed Forces, Sergio Orellana, and the Police, Rodolfo Montero.
“We all know that we will not have final results until the official vote count is over.”, said Áñez, for which he asked citizens and the parties to have “patience to wait for the results without generating any type of violent events.
Áñez was running for the elections for the Juntos alliance, but last month he decided to withdraw his candidacy so as not to disperse the vote and unify it for the candidate who can stand up to the Movement for Socialism (MAS), of former President Evo Morales.
The official count
Bolivia began counting the vote this Sunday after nine hours of attendance at the polling stations to receive more than 7.3 million voters in the country. The official voting record began at 6:00 p.m. under the authority of the TSE, an entity that the day before decided to abolish the Preliminary Results Dissemination system (Direpre) that was supposed to offer provisional results.
“We have had a quiet day throughout the country so far,” said Deputy Minister of Citizen Security Wilson Santamaria in a statement. Overseers from Copppal and Parlasur also highlighted that Election day passed calmly.
No quick count
The Bolivian TSE announced on Saturday that it would not use the system of preliminary results for the vote count so as not to generate “uncertainty” in the population and only official data will be used. The result of the elections, where Luis Arce of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) is the favorite candidate, will not be known during Sunday night.
The president of the TSE, Salvador Romero, reported that “due to responsibility to the country” it was decided not to use the Preliminary Results Dissemination system (Direpre), since they do not want to generate uncertainty in Bolivians in a “highly polarized climate.”
“On Sunday night we will not have the official and final result. This is going to take us a few additional hours and it is important that citizens have patience because the result will be reliable, (albeit) a little slower“Romero said.
In the presidential election last year, there were irregularities with the vote count. The scrutiny in mining centers such as those of Siglo XX, Llallagua and other towns far from urban centers where the indigenous vote is strengthened, had to be reviewed by the TSE after shock groups called by opponents of the Morales government tried to prevent the counting the original peasant vote and ignoring the results.
This time, Romero gave a press conference in La Paz and explained that he was looking for a system to disseminate preliminary results that are “close” to the official result, but “when there is no certainty and sufficient volume of information,” it is better remove that counting form.
“In such a way that we are certain that this result will be similar to the final one, it is preferable to dispense with the preliminary results”, said Romero and stressed that in this way will “have a result without an iota of doubts”.
Furthermore, he argued that the population may be present at the vote count, can photograph the minutes prepared by the electoral juries, while the political delegates can have a copy and The results in the computer system may be verifiable minute by minute, including the photograph of the minutes and the transcription of the results.
“The objective of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is to have a calculation that is safe for all citizens, safe for competing political organizations and that the results are reliable,” said the president of the electoral body.
Reactions to the TSE’s decision
Evo Morales criticized the TSE’s decision Through his Twitter account: “It is highly worrying that @TSEBolivia decides to suspend the Preliminary Results Dissemination (Direpre) system at election time. This last minute decision raises questions about his intentions“.
In the elections this sunday the candidates are Luis Arce of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) -part of former president Evo Morales-, former president Carlos Mesa Citizen Community (CC) and the former mayor of Santa Cruz de la Sierra Luis Fernando Camacho, who leads the We Believe Alliance and represents the most radical and anti-Masist right wing.