Bolivian vote of confidence referendum, 2008

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A vote of confidence in President Evo Morales in the form of a referendum was held in Bolivia on 10 August 2008.[1] The vote was held to determine whether Morales, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, and eight out of nine departmental Prefects should stay in office.[2] Morales received more than 67% support and six of the eight prefects were returned. The prefects of Cochabamba Department and La Paz Department were defeated and will now face re-election.

Background[edit]

The referendum was initially suggested by Morales in December 2007, but was rejected by the opposition at the time. However, the opposition-controlled Senate brought back the suggestion following their victory in the Santa Cruz autonomy referendum on 4 May 2008, with Morales agreeing to hold the vote.

The recall election would be deemed successful if the percentage voting in favour of the recall exceeded the percentage of voters that originally voted for the person. For Morales and Linera, there would have to be more than 53.74% (their margin in the 2005 presidential election). The same rules apply for the governors, but their margins are between 48% and 38% in La Paz Department which makes their recall much easier to accomplish.[2][3] If the recall is successful then fresh elections would be held.[4] Morales has stated that if he stays in office, he will use the referendum result as a springboard for more reforms – for instance, setting a date for the constitutional referendum which would grant more rights to Bolivia's poor indigenous population.[5] If he loses, he said he would go back to farming coca.[2]

Polls in May 2008 showed Morales easily defeating the recall.[6]

Following autonomy referendums held in the second quarter of 2008 in Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija, the governors of these four states initially refused to take part in the recall referendum unless the referendum complied with the new autonomy statutes, which the Supreme Electoral Court considers to be invalid; they pushed for early elections to be held instead.[7] Nonetheless, the governors later agreed to participate.[8] However, there were still obstructive measures from these four departments a few days before the referendum.[9]

The recall referendum did not apply to the governor of Chuquisaca Department, as Savina Cuéllar was just elected very recently in June 2008.[10] Cuéllar was a member of the Bolivian Constituent Assembly for Morales' Movement for Socialism, but ran for governorship of Chuquisaca as the candidate of the opposition Interinstitutional Committee Alliance, winning with 55% to MAS' Wálter Valda's 45%.[11] The gubernatorial election was held after the previous governor, David Sánchez of MAS, resigned (against the wish of his party) due to violent protests.

Shortly before the election, the rules were changed, though the legality of this move remains in doubt; under the new rules, the governors will be removed from office if over 50% of voters recall them, effectively raising the threshold required.[12]

Results[edit]

e • d Summary of the 10 August 2008 Bolivian recall referendum results
Position Party Candidate Votes against recall % against recall % threshold Result
President
Vice President
Movement Toward Socialism Juan Evo Morales Ayma
Álvaro García Linera
2,103,732 67.41% 53.7% Survived
Prefect of Beni Department PODEMOS Ernesto Suárez 64,866 64.25% 44.64% Survived
Prefect of Chuquisaca Department Allianza Comité Interinstitucional Savina Cuéllar Not voting
Prefect of Cochabamba Department Nueva Fuerza Republicana Manfred Reyes Villa 195,290 35.19% 47.64% Recalled
Prefect of La Paz Department José Luis Paredes 362,214 35.48% 37.99% Recalled
Prefect of Oruro Department Alberto Luis Aguilar 84,364 50.86% 40.95% Survived
Prefect of Pando Department PODEMOS Leopoldo Fernández 14,841 56.21% 48.03% Survived
Prefect of Potosí Department Mario Virreira 171,629 79.08% 40.69% Survived
Prefect of Santa Cruz Department Autonomy for Bolivia Ruben Costas 451,191 66.43% 47.87% Survived
Prefect of Tarija Department Civic Committee Mario Cossío 78,170 58.06% 45.65% Survived
Source: National Election Court of Bolivia

References[edit]

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