Revolutionary Nationalist Movement

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For the Honduran political party, see Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Honduras).
Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario
Leader Guillermo Bedregal Gutiérrez
Founder Víctor Paz Estenssoro
Founded 7 June 1942
Headquarters La Paz, Bolivia
Ideology Bolivian nationalism,
Populism
Political position Centrism,
with certain centre-left and centre-right tendencies
National affiliation Plan Progress for Bolivia – National Convergence
Politics of Bolivia
Political parties
Elections

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Spanish: Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario About this sound listen ) is a Bolivian political party, perhaps the most important in the country during the 20th century. At the legislative elections in 2002, the party won, in an alliance with the Free Bolivia Movement, 26.9% of the popular vote and 36 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 out of 27 seats in the Senate. Its candidate at the presidential elections, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, won 22.5% of the popular vote and was subsequently confirmed by parliament as president. After the 2002 elections, it ruled in a coalition with the Revolutionary Left Movement, with Sánchez as president (he had been president from 1993 to 1997). Sánchez was overthrown in a 2003 popular uprising, and the party's future is uncertain, especially as its last government has been tarnished by serious accusations of corruption, mismanagement, and even homicidal repression.

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement was founded in 1941 by Víctor Paz Estenssoro and Hernán Siles Zuazo. It eventually attracted some of the brightest members of the Bolivian intelligentsia. Among the party's most prominent supporters one can name (in addition to Paz and Siles) historical figures such as Humberto Guzmán Fricke, Juan Lechín, Carlos Montenegro, Walter Guevara Arze, Javier del Granado, Augusto Céspedes, Lydia Gueiler, Guillermo Bedregal, and Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, a number of whom became presidents of Bolivia. At the time, it was a leftist/reformist party, along the lines of similar Latin American parties such as the Dominican Revolutionary Party, Democratic Action of Venezuela, and the Peruvian Aprista Party. The MNR first came to power in 1943, in support of the reformist military regime of Gualberto Villarroel. It was at the time tainted, however, by the alleged pro-fascist sympathies of various of its leaders, and the United States (then at war with the Axis) insisted that its members be removed from the Villarroel government in exchange for official recognition.

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement led a far-reaching revolution in 1952 and ruled the country, in its first incarnation, until being overthrown by a 1964 military coup. Siles (president from 1956 to 1960) and Paz Estenssoro (president from 1952–56 and 1960–64) were the top leaders of that Revolutionary period, establishing the universal vote, nationalizing the tin mines, and instituting an extensive program of land distribution (agrarian reform). During this time, many of the old elitist parties that had previously dominated Bolivian politics either disappeared or faded into irrelevance. This left the MNR in the center of the Bolivian political spectrum.

Siles and Paz, however, split in the 1960s over Paz's ambitions and personal control of the party. Filled with strong personalities, the party had, in fact, begun to fragment along political and personal lines since the late 1950s, with Wálter Guevara being the first to leave and the popular Juan Lechín being expelled in 1964. Siles went on to form the Revolutionary Nationalist Leftwing Movement (MNRI) and Lechín the Revolutionary Party of the Nationalist Left (PRIN).

The years in exile seemed to only deepen the intra-party squabbles. With the main body of the MNR firmly in Paz Estenssoro's's control, the old leader made what can be seen as a major mistake in 1971, when he supported the coming to power of dictator Hugo Banzer Suárez. It was a move that was to cost his party dearly at the polls in subsequent years. While Paz seemed to be moving steadily to the right, Siles Zuazo went on to lead the UDP (Union Democratica Popular), in alliance with the new and popular Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). Indeed, Siles was the post-MNR politician who was best able to capitalize on the remaining legitimacy and respect that accrued to the MNR as a result of the 1952 Revolution. Paz Estenssoro led the MNR-proper in the 1978, 1979, and 1980 elections, finishing third, second, and second, respectively. He was finally elected president (for the 4th time) in 1985, and served as Bolivia's chief executive from 1985 until 1989, when he retired from politics. By this time, the party had moved sharply to the right and now advocated neoliberal economic policies. Under Paz, important economic reforms designed to curb hyperinflation were instituted, the labor unions were repressed, and 30,000 miners were fired from state payrolls as a result of the collapse of global tin prices. The painful readjustment policies adopted by the elderly Paz and his vigorous Minister of Planning, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, came to be known as the New Economic Policy (NEP), and restructured the bulk of the hitherto statist and now neoliberal Bolivian economy.

Led by Sanchez de Lozada, the MNR won the 1993 elections, and Sanchez was confirmed as president by parliament. He continued the policies of the NEP. The party placed second in 1997 with Juan Carlos Durán (the Bolivian constitution prohibits direct re-election of a sitting president), who lost the contest (and the presidency) to the former dictator Banzer.

At the legislative elections of 30 June 2002, the party, together with the Free Bolivia Movement, won 26.9% of the popular vote and 36 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 out of 27 in the Senate. Following these elections, because no candidate could get a majority, the Congress chose the President, and they chose Sánchez de Lozada. In 2003 however he was forcwed to resign, and his successor, Carlos Mesa, took over as an independent (he was never a party member) in hopes of promoting national unity in the face of nation-wide protests. Mesa later resigned and presidential elections were moved up to December 2005.

The MNR earned 6.5% of the popular vote and won 7 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 1 out of 27 seats in the Senate in the legislative elections. Its candidate in the presidential elections was Michiaki Nagatani, whose poor performance seems to signal a steep decline in the fortunes of the party.

The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement is led by Guillermo Bedregal Gutiérrez.

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