2020 Bolivian general election

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2020 Bolivian general election

← 2019 18 October 2020 2025 →
Turnout88.42% (Increase 0.11pp)
Luis Arce (23588020275) (cropped).jpg
Carlos D. Mesa - Portrait (Small).jpg Luis Fernando Camacho.jpg
Nominee Luis Arce Carlos Mesa Luis Fernando Camacho
Party MAS-IPSP FRI Independent
Alliance none Civic Community[b] Creemos[a]
Running mate David Choquehuanca Gustavo Pedraza Marco Pumari
Popular vote 3,393,978 1,775,943 862,184
Percentage 55.10% 28.83% 14.00%

Mapa Electoral de Bolivia 2020 Bolivia.svgMapa Electoral de Bolivia por municipios 2020.svg
Results by department (left) and municipality (right)

President before election

Jeanine Áñez (interim)

Elected President

Luis Arce

General elections were held in Bolivia on 18 October 2020 for President, Vice-President, and all seats in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.[2] Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party was elected president in a landslide,[3][4][5] winning 55% of the vote and securing majorities in both chambers of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. The results of the election superseded the disputed results of the October 2019 elections, which were annulled during a prolonged political crisis.

Although the winning party received a higher proportion of the vote in 2020 than in the previous annulled elections, for the first time since 2009 the winning party did not have a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Assembly, meaning that some functions would require cross-party support.[6] For the first time, the Senate will contain a majority of female senators.[7]

Electoral authorities had initially scheduled the elections for 3 May 2020.[8] However, they were postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,[9] first to 6 September 2020 and then to 18 October 2020. The latter date was ratified by a 13 August 2020 law following protests and blockades against the previous postponements.[10]

The parties or alliances contesting the election were the Movement for Socialism (MAS-IPSP), which governed before 2019, Civic Community (CC), the newly formed Creemos (Let's create, We believe) alliance, the Front for Victory, and the National Action Party (PAN-BOL). Presidential candidates Carlos Mesa (CC) and Chi Hyun Chung (FPV) were the second and third-place finishers, respectively, in the annulled 2019 presidential election. Luis Arce was the MAS candidate, replacing former MAS president Evo Morales. Feliciano Mamani replaced Ruth Nina as candidate for PAN-BOL. Interim president Jeanine Áñez, former president Jorge Quiroga, and María de la Cruz Bayá all launched presidential candidacies, but withdrew before the election was held.

The official count took several days to complete. Independent quick-counts of the vote conducted by polling firms Ciesmori and Mi Voto Cuenta on the morning of 19 October both indicated that Arce had won a majority of the vote, enough to win the election outright without requiring a runoff round.[11][12] Interim President Áñez confirmed this on Twitter shortly after,[13] and runner-up Mesa and former president Quiroga both indicated their acceptance of the preliminary results later that day.[14][15]

Official observers from the UN, UNIORE and the OAS all stated that there was no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election.[16]


2019 election[edit]

On 10 November 2019, after 19 days of civil protests following the disputed election results of October 2019 and the release of a report from the OAS, which alleged irregularities in the electoral process, the military and the police of Bolivia forced president Morales to resign. After General Williams Kaliman made the military's request for Morales's resignation public, Morales complied, accompanied by other resignations by high-level politicians throughout the day, some citing fears for the safety of their families. The government of Mexico offered political asylum to Morales the following day, which Morales accepted a day afterwards.[17][18]

As Vice-President Álvaro García Linera, President of the Senate Adriana Salvatierra and President of the Chamber of Deputies Víctor Borda, had already resigned, there were no constitutionally-designated successors. The First Vice President of the Senate, Rubén Medinaceli, had also resigned.[19] Jeanine Áñez, the Second Vice President of the Senate, was the highest-ranking official still in office and she announced that she would be willing to ascend to the presidency on an interim basis in order to call for new elections. On 12 November 2019 Áñez took temporary charge of the Senate of Bolivia, thereby formally placing herself in the line of succession as acting President of the Senate, and on this basis proceeded to declare herself the Constitutional President of the country. Her accession to office was formally legitimized by a decision of the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal later the same day, which stated that she had lawfully assumed office ipso facto, in accordance with the precedent laid out by Constitutional Declaration 0003/01 of 31 July 2001.[20][21] Many in Bolivia protested against Añez becoming president, which led to violent clashes between them and the police. Several MAS supporters were killed by the police during confrontations in Senkata and Sacaba. The Argentine delegation in Bolivia and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights described these as massacres.[22][23][24]

On 20 November, Evo Morales offered to not run as a presidential candidate if he was allowed to return to Bolivia and conclude his term.[25]

In the same day, the interim government presented a bill that aimed to forge a path to new elections. The two chambers of congress were expected to debate the bill which would annul the 20 October election and appoint a new electoral board within 15 days of its passage, paving the way for a new vote.[26] The bill, drafted jointly by Morales' Movement for Socialism (MAS) and anti-Morales legislators, was approved on 23 November; it prohibited Morales from participating in the fresh election.[27] In exchange, Áñez's government agreed to withdraw the armed forces from all protest areas (although some servicemen were still permitted to stay at some state companies to "prevent vandalism"), to revoke her decree which granted the army immunity from criminal prosecution, to release arrested pro-Morales protesters, to protect lawmakers and social leaders from attacks and to provide compensation for the families of those killed during the crisis. She approved the bill shortly thereafter.[28]

Candidacy of Áñez[edit]

On 5 December, Áñez stated that she would not be a candidate or support any candidate.[29] This was reiterated on 15 January 2020 by Minister for the Presidency Yerko Núñez, who said that "[Áñez] will not be a candidate. The President has stated on several occasions, she will not be a candidate, this is a government of peace, transition, and management because you can not stop the state apparatus."[30]

Despite her previous statements, Áñez announced her candidacy on 24 January 2020.[31] A survey reported in the Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos indicated that, while 43% of respondents considered her to have done a "good or very good" job as interim president (compared to 27% bad or very bad), only 24% of respondents believed that she should stand as a candidate in the upcoming elections. In the same poll, 63% of respondents agreed with the statement that "as interim president, Jeanine Áñez should call elections and not take advantage of her power to become a presidential candidate."[32] On 17 September 2020, following a poll that put Arce in first place with above 40% support, and Áñez in fourth place, Áñez announced the end of her candidacy, citing the risk that the vote would be split between the conservative candidates.[33]

Election postponement and blockades[edit]

In March 2020, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced the election and preparatory activities would be postponed due to emergency restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. All major parties agreed with this measure and that a date for the new election would be chosen by the legislative assembly based on a public health evaluation at a later date.[34][35]

On 22 June 2020, Áñez approved a law passed by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate to set 6 September 2020 as the date for the election, with elected authorities in place by mid-to-late November 2020.[36][37][38]

On 23 July 2020, the TSE announced that the election would be postponed to 18 October 2020 due to medical reports that the pandemic would have its highest peaks in late August and early September.[39][40] Evo Morales condemned the delays, calling them an unconstitutional attempt by Áñez to remain in power, and some groups, including the Bolivian Workers' Center, carried out protests and blockades.[41][42] The electoral body, experts and MAS politicians disagreed on the unconstitutionality of the decision.[43][44] MAS supporters responded to the election postponement by protesting and, on 3 August, started an indefinite strike, blocking highways in El Alto and other party strongholds.[45] Former president of Bolivia, Jaime Paz Zamora of the Revolutionary Left Movement, criticised Morales for supporting the blockades, which resulted in the deaths of 33 coronavirus patients due to lack of oxygen.[46] Morales later accepted the decision of the TSE after rising opposition to the protests.[47] On 10 August, Morales called for dialogue and asked MAS supporters to "consider" the TSE's plan for an election on 18 October with the UN as observer.[45] A survey by Mercados y Muestras showed that 59% of those surveyed believed that MAS were behind the medicine and food shortages to the cities and 65% believed that the organisers of the blockades should face prosecution.[48] MAS Vice President Orlando Zurita said the road blockades were established by MAS.[49] In some places, dynamite was used to destroy the highway and two soldiers were severely beaten by protestors.[50] In Santa Cruz, Potosí, Cochabamba and other areas of the country, protesters were reported[by whom?] to be armed and carried out violence against police and property.[51][52][53] On 10 August, Añez asked the La Paz prosecutor general's office to investigate Morales, Arce, Choquehuanca, and eight other MAS leaders for fomenting "terrorism, genocide, and other crimes against health" in relation to the protests.[45]

In late August and early September 2020, large seizures of weapons, dynamite, ammunition and case were made with claimed[by whom?] links to Mexican drug cartels and MAS-affiliated groups. [54] This prompted concerns[by whom?] that irregular groups[clarification needed] could seek to destabilize the coming elections. [55][56]

Electoral system[edit]

The President of Bolivia is elected using a modified two-round system: a candidate is declared the winner if they receive more than 50% of the vote, or over 40% of the vote and are 10 percentage points ahead of their closest rival.[57] If neither condition is met, a run-off election is held between the two top candidates.[58]

The 130 members in the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) (excluding the seven special seats) are elected using the additional member system. Using first-past-the-post voting, 63 seats are elected in single-member districts. Another 60 additional seats are elected using closed list party-list proportional representation in districts of varying sizes corresponding to Bolivia's nine departments with a threshold of 3%. The additional seats in each region are awarded proportionally based on the vote for the presidential candidates, subtracting the number of single-member districts won. The remaining seven seats are reserved indigenous seats elected by the usos y costumbres, using first-past-the-post voting. A voter can only vote in one of either the normal constituencies or special constituencies.[59]

The Chamber of Senators (Cámara de Senadores) has 36 members, four from each the country's nine departments, which are also elected using closed party-lists, using the D'Hondt method.[59] The senate seats are also awarded based on the vote for president.

Voting in Bolivia is compulsory for all adults over the age of 18. The voter is given a card when they have voted so that they can show proof of participation. The voter would not be able to receive their salary from the bank if they cannot show the proof of voting during three months after the election.[60] This can result in a relatively common occurrence of invalid ballots.[61] This is reflected in the percentages of blank/null votes under "would not vote" in the electoral surveys.

On 17 October, the TSE announced that the new preliminary count system (Direpre) would not be used because the preliminary data would not offer certainty about the results, and only the final results will be published officially. The TSE also stated that all people will be able to observe the counting process and any citizen would be able to take photos of the electoral records. Political organisations with delegates would also have the right to copies of the minutes, the calculation and scrutiny would be carried out in public, and photos of the minutes would be part of the released data.[62][63]

Presidential candidates[edit]

As of 28 January 2020, ten candidates had officially stated their intention to run for the presidency.[64]

On 18 January 2020, the Unity Pact of MAS bases elected David Choquehuanca and Andrónico Rodríguez as presidential and vice-presidential candidates. On 19 January, Evo Morales announced that Luis Alberto Arce Catacora and David Choquehuanca would be the party's presidential and vice presidential candidates. This was following a vote by those members of MAS leadership present in Buenos Aires the previous day.[65] This difference caused some friction among different sections of the MAS bases, including the Barolina Sisa and Tupac Katari Federation who rejected these selections.[66][67] On 21 January, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) supplied a third candidacy combination of Choquehuanca paired with Orlando Gutiérrez. MAS President of the Senate, Eva Copa, said the matter was not yet closed and would be decided by a further meeting of the Unity Pact.[68] On 23 January, the Unity Pact ratified the Arce-Choquehuanca ticket chosen in Buenos Aires.[69] On 24 January, a new right-wing political alliance called "We Believe" ("Creemos") was formed, and endorsed the Camacho-Pumari ticket.[70] By the registration deadline, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced that five political coalitions had been registered.[71] However, on 31 January the TSE announced that the coalition "United People" had been disqualified after not submitting the required documents.[72]

In July 2020, a lawsuit was filed by four separate political parties (among others) with the Supreme Electoral Court asking it to disqualify Arce from standing in the presidential election. The lawsuit stated Arce had released an opinion poll on the presidential race outside the time frame allowed. In 2015, a similar complaint was filed against Ernesto Suárez, leader of the opposition UD bench in the Department of Beni, regarding release of polls by outgoing governor campaign manager Carmelo Lens. This resulted in Suárez and 227 other UD canditates having their legal status cancelled and removed from the election.[73]

On 11 October, Jorge Quiroga announced that he and the political alliance he was heading were withdrawing from the race.[74]

Party Presidential candidate Vice presidential candidate
Movement for Socialism (MAS) Luis Alberto Arce Catacora David Choquehuanca
Civic Community[c] Carlos Mesa Gustavo Pedraza
Creemos[d] Luis Fernando Camacho Marco Pumari
The Front For Victory[75] Chi Hyun Chung Leopoldo Chui
National Action Party of Bolivia Feliciano Mamani Ruth Nina


During the 14 years and preceding period where Evo Morales was president and presidential candidate, Morales declined to take part in any public debate with any of the other candidates, making the justification that he only "debates with the people".[76] In January 2020, interim president Jeanine Áñez submitted legislation to make this a compulsory requirement for presidential candidates in upcoming elections, but this was rejected by the MAS-controlled Senate.[77][78]

A historic debate which would gather all the presidential candidates together on the same stage for the first time in almost two decades was announced on 6 September, organised by the association of Bolivian Journalists, media organisations and others. The debate was covered by more than 80 national and international media and an audience of more than five million people was expected. The event also had the backing of 50 national institutions and the financial and technical support of the European Union, International Idea, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the embassies of Canada, Germany and Switzerland. When it aired, it achieved record viewing numbers.[79][80] From the beginning, however, the MAS candidate Luis Arce was reluctant to make a commitment to attend, with he and MAS first placing conditions on attending, such as they not be subject to insults, and later claiming a clash with a planned interview with the television network Red Uno (which the network later moved to allow free up the MAS candidate).[81][82] On the night of the broadcast, both he and Creemos candidate, Luis Camacho, did not attend. Camacho said he did not attend because he had been deceived that Mesa would also not be attending.[83] A panel of 40 analysts surveyed by Pagina Siete indicated that Mesa came out as the most favourable candidate from this debate.[84]

While Arce did not attend the debate on 4 October, he did attend another broadcast the previous day in which all presidential candidates were present. This was organised by the Federation of Municipal Associations (FAM) and the Confederation of Universities of Bolivia (CUB).[85] The debate format received criticism for not allowing candidates to respond to each other as well as accusations that the organisers were pro-MAS.[86][87][88] Criticisms included that it was not a debate, but a "monologue", "fashion show" and "propaganda" and that the definition of debate should include at least some form of interaction, interrogation, discussion or confrontation between candidates. The format of the debate was in some part determined by conditions set by Luis Arce to guarantee his attendance that "no personal or partisan allusions were allowed", i.e. no direct criticisms of other candidates or of their party.[89]

Opinion polls[edit]

First round[edit]

Poll source Date(s)
Luis F.
Chi Hyun
Would not
Ciesmori[1] 18 October (exit poll) 52.4% 31.5% - 14.1% 1.6% - 0.4% - - -
Jubileo[2] 18 October (exit poll) 53.0% 30.8% - 14.1% 1.6% - 0.5% - - -
15 October 2020 The ADN party withdraws its ballot. Bayá's candidacy is annulled by TSE[91]
11 October 2020 Quiroga withdraws his candidacy[92]
Ciesmori[3] 29 September – 8 October 32.4% 24.5% - 10.7% 2.4% 1.3% 0.4% 0.4% 6.1% [e] 13.2%
42.2% 33.1% - 16.7% 3.7% 2.8% 0.7% 0.8% [f]
Mercados y Muestras[4] 20 September – 8 October 27.1% 27.2% - 14% 2.5% 1.6% 0.2% 0.3% 7.4% 19.8%
37.2% 37.4% - 19.2% 3.4% 2.2% 0.3% 0.4% [g]
IPSOS[5] 21 September – 4 October 34% 27.9% - 13.8% 2.6% 1.6% 0.2% 0.5% - 19.4% [h]
Ciesmori[6] 20 September – 29 September 30,6% 24,7% - 12.7% 2.5% 1.5% 0.5% 0.3% - 13.3%
CELAG[7][note] 19 September – 29 September 36.4% 27.9% - 12.5% 2.3% 2.2% - 0.7% 18[i] -
17 September 2020 Áñez withdraws her candidacy[93]
Mercados y Muestras SRL[8] 5 September – 11 September 25% 22% 8% 8% 2% 2% 0% 0% 11[j] 21
37% 33% 12% 12% 3% 3% 1% - [k]
Jubileo[9] 3 September – 7 September 29.2% 19.0% 7.7% 10.4% 3.2% 2.0% 0.4% 0.6% 17.7[l] 9.8
40.3% 26.2% 10.6% 14.4% 4.4% 2.8% 0.6% 0.8% [m]
Ciesmori[10] 26 August – 3 September 2020 26.2% 17.1% 10.4% 6.2% 3.3% 2.5% 0.6% 1.0% 9.3%[n] 22.7[o]
37.3% 24.2% 14.4% 12.4% 5.9% 3.8% 0.7% 1.3% [p]
Mercados y Muestras SRL[11] 6 August – 11 August 2020 23% 23% 12% 6% 2% 3% 1% - 11% 19%
33% 32% 17% 9% 3% 5% 1% - [q]
Mercados y Muestras SRL[12] 11 July – 16 July 2020 24% 20% 16% 5% 3% 3% - - 9% 20%
CELAG[13][note] 13 June – 3 July 2020 41.9% 26.8% 13.3% 9.1% 4.5% 4.4% - - - -
11 March 2020 COVID-19 declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization
Ciesmori[14] 5–11 March 2020 33.3% 18.3% 16.9% 7.1% 3.8% 1.7% 1.9% - 6.2% 2.8%
CELAG[15][note] 10 February – 4 March 2020 33.1% 17.4% 20.5% 7.4% 5.6% 1.5% 1.3% - 5.7% 7.5%
Miský Utaha´a[16] 21–23 February 2020 29.2% 15.3% 13.7% 11.1% 8.6% 6.7% 0.5% 0.1%[r] 11.3% 3.5%
Mercados y Muestras SRL[17] 14–17 February 2020 27% 19% 18% 12% 5% 2% 0% - 7% 9%
Ciesmori[18] 7–13 February 2020 31.6% 17.1% 16.5% 9.6% 5.4% 1.6% 1.6% 0.5%[s] 7.5% 8.7%
24 January 2020 Áñez announces her candidacy[94]
19 January 2020 Arce announced as candidate of MAS[95]

Before registration[edit]

Poll source Date(s)
Luis F.
Chi Hyun
Other Would not
United States Embassy[19] January 2020 37% 9% 9% 11% 4% - 3% 7% 20%
Mercados y Muestras SRL[20] 9–13 January 2020 26% 17% 12% 17% 6% 3% 2%[t] 8% 9%
Poll source Date(s)
Luis F.
Chi Hyun
Other Would not
Ciesmori Archived 4 January 2020 at the Wayback Machine 21–30 December 2019 20.7%[u] 13.8% 15.6% 6.9% 8.1% 8.2% - - 1.8% 1.6% - 0.9% 10.2% 12.2%
Mercados y Muestras SRL[21] 13–16 December 2019 23%[v] 21% - 13% 9% 10% - - - 2% - - 14% 8%
Captura Consulting[22][97][98] 5–15 December 2019 18.4%[w] 11.9% 7.5% 12.8% 8.5% - 3.7% 2.8% 2.1% 1.8% 1.0% 2.6% 5.1% 21.8%
12.0%[x] 13.7% 10.0% - 9.4% 8.0% 4.8% 3.7% 2.5% 1.7% 2.3% 3.5% 5.1% 23.3%
13.6%[y] 10.6% 7.3% 11.1% 8.4% 5.7% 4.2% 2.6% 2.2% 2.7% - 11.0%[z] 3.0% 17.6%
Mercados y Muestras SRL 26–27 November 2019 16%[aa] 14% - 16% 10% 16% - - - - - 8% 8% 12%
^ Note that the Latin American Strategic Centre for Geopolitics (CELAG) survey has been criticised by Jornada, Yolanda Mamani Cayo and Miguel Serrano for its alleged bias towards MAS because Álvaro García Linera, who served as vice president under Evo Morales, is part of its advisory council[99] and several of its executives are people with a political militancy and with party ideology.[100] This organization does not appear on the list of entities authorized by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to disseminate surveys.[101][102]

Second round[edit]

Arce v. Mesa
Poll source Date(s)
Arce Mesa Would not
Muestras y Mercados 20 September – 8 October 2020 32.7% 50.3% 7.7% 9.2%
Mercados y Muestras 5 September – 11 September 2020 33% 47% 10% 9%
Ciesmori 26 August – 3 September 2020 35% 40.1% 11%[ab] 13.3%[ac]
Mercados y Muestras 6 August – 11 August 2020 30% 47% 12% 11%
Ciesmori 5–11 March 2020 42.9% 41% 10.4% 5.7%
Mercados y Muestras 14–17 February 2020 37% 48% 11% 4%
Ciesmori 7–13 February 2020 40.8% 40.7% 15.2% 3.3%
Arce v. Áñez
Poll source Date(s)
Arce Áñez Would not
Mercados y Muestras 5 September – 11 September 2020 37% 38% 17% 8%
Ciesmori 26 August – 3 September 2020 38.9% 33.9% 12.4%[ad] 13.9%[ae]
Mercados y Muestras 6 August – 11 August 2020 38% 39% 14% 9%
Ciesmori 5–11 March 2020 43.2% 42.6% 8.3% 6%
Mercados y Muestras 14–17 February 2020 36% 48% 12% 4%
Ciesmori 7–13 February 2020 42.3% 43.6% 10.6% 3.5%
Arce v. Camacho
Poll source Date(s)
Arce Camacho Would not
Ciesmori 5–11 March 2020 46% 42% 16% 5.9%
Mercados y Muestras 14–17 February 2020 40% 37% 19% 4%
Ciesmori 7–13 February 2020 44.5% 33.6% 18% 3.9%
Mesa v. Áñez
Poll source Date(s)
Mesa Áñez Would not
Ciesmori 26 August – 3 September 2020 35,9% 23,1% 28.4%[af] 12.5%[ag]
Ciesmori 5–11 March 2020 32.6% 31.6% 29.6% 6.2%
Ciesmori 7–13 February 2020 30.3% 33.8% 32.3% 3.6%
Camacho v. Áñez
Poll source Date(s)
Camacho Áñez Would not
Ciesmori 5–11 March 2020 15.6% 41.4% 37.0% 6%
Ciesmori 7–13 February 2020 16.3% 40.8% 38.7% 4.2%


Election day was relatively peaceful. Deputy security minister Wilson Santamaria said that two people tried to interfere with ballot papers in capital La Paz, but they were apprehended.[103]

The head of Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) commended the conduct of the polls, saying that "election day was a successful day for democracy."[104] The United Nations applauded the elections as having occurred in "an orderly manner, in a climate of tranquility and respect for human rights".[105] The European Union congratulated Bolivia for the safe conduct of its elections as it awaited the results of the TSE.[106]

During the vote count, the TSE received complaints of fraud from the separatist movement in Santa Cruz.[citation needed]

On 22 October, Bolivian mining union leader and previously proposed MAS vice-presidential candidate Orlando Gutiérrez suffered a head wound and was admitted to hospital. Although he was reported to be "stable, conscious and out of risk" shortly afterwards, on 28 October he was reported to have died in hospital. Information circulating on social media claimed an attack from a group calling themselves "pititas" in which he was beaten. Other sources say that it was the result of a brawl between different factions of MAS during a victory celebration. No criminal complaint was made and the body buried without an autopsy. An investigation was opened following his death, although previous attempts to investigate were denied and the diagnosis was kept confidential with no visitors allowed.[107][108][109]

International observers[edit]

Representatives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Organization of American States (OAS) arrived in Bolivia on 9 January 2020 to discuss monitoring the elections that were initially planned for 3 May.[110] USAID had been expelled in 2013 by the MAS government.[111]

International teams from the Carter Center, Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (UNIORE) and Association of Electoral Organizations of South America were also approved as electoral observers by the TSE. Local initiatives from within Bolivia including La Ruta de la Democracia and Observe Bolivia have also been approved and will be observing the elections.[112][113][114] The OAS mission of observers consisted of 40 experts of 12 different nationalities.[115] The European Union (EU) announced on 8 September that it would be sending a team of five or six experts to observe the 18 October elections.[116] The Carter Centre sent two experts in electoral analysis.[117]

On 14 October 2020, the Progressive International sent an observer group made up of three national legislators from Greece, Poland and Spain, stating that they are "particularly concerned about the integrity of the presidential elections in Bolivia".[118]

A delegation of observers from Argentina invited by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly was subject to controversy when one of the delegates, lawmaker Federico Fagioli, was detained at La Paz Airport.[119] The Bolivian Minister of the Interior, Arturo Morillo, stated that Fagioli had been warned not to return to Bolivia after the lawmaker's participation in a previous Argentine delegation that visited the country following the ousting of Evo Morales in 2019, and that Fagioli was a "persona non grata" in Bolivia.[120] In addition to Fagioli's detention, other members of the Argentine delegation, including other lawmakers, were also allegedly mistreated by Bolivian security forces. The incident was harshly criticized by Argentine president Alberto Fernández and MAS candidate Luis Arce.[121][122]

A total of 110 international observers were accredited by the TSE to attend and analyse the results of the election.[117]

The OAS, the UN and UNIORE have all made public statements testifying to the validity of the elections and the lack of evidence of any irregularities.[123][124][16] The Carter Centre supported the results and transparency of the elections, with minor recommendations on further improvements. They also analysed online disinformation targeting the electoral process in the 3 months prior to the election and noted "a proliferation of disinformation aimed at eroding the reputations of candidates and the TSE".[125]


Vote strength by province.
Results among voters abroad.
Bolivie Chambre des députés 2020.svgBolivie Sénat 2020.svg
PartyPresidential candidateVotes%Seats
Movement for SocialismLuis Arce3,393,97855.1075+8210
Civic CommunityCarlos Mesa1,775,94328.8339–1111–3
CreemosLuis Fernando Camacho862,18414.0016New4New
Front For VictoryChi Hyun Chung95,2451.550000
National Action Party of BoliviaFeliciano Mamani31,7700.520000
Valid votes6,159,12094.99
Invalid/blank votes324,7735.01
Total votes6,483,893100.00
Registered voters/turnout7,332,92688.42
Source: OEP

The results of the election mean that, for the first time, the Senate will contain a majority of female senators, with a proportion of 20 women to 16 men.[7][126][127][128] Among these women was Yolanda Salazar, the nation's first Senator from the Trinidadian-Mojeña ethnic group of the Beni region, who was elected for CC.[129] The new government was installed on 8 November 2020.[130]

MAS, which improved its result over the annulled 2019 elections but still slightly reduced compared to 2014, attained a majority on its own in both chambers, meaning there is no obstacle to passing laws, but the loss of the two-thirds enjoyed by the party since 2009 means that some functions of the legislature will require cross-party support. These include the appointment of certain authorities (such as the Ombudsman for Human Rights, Comptroller General and Attorney General), making reforms in the constitution, the approval of judges for the Judicial Branch of government and the censuring of a government minister. This is the first time since 2009 that these decisions cannot be made by the ruling party alone.[6]

By department[edit]

Candidate Beni Chuquisaca Cochabamba La Paz Oruro Pando Potosí Santa Cruz Tarija
Luis Arce 71,957 34.72% 148,452 49.06% 773,386 65.90% 1,162,949 68.36% 186,452 62.94% 25,883 45.80% 211,571 57.61% 576,567 36.21% 124,586 41.62%
Carlos Mesa 81,182 39.17% 139,176 45.99% 371,826 31.68% 486,139 28.58% 97,812 33.02% 14,635 25.89% 131,635 35.85% 275,868 17.32% 150,405 50.24%
Luis Fernando Camacho 49,128 23.70% 6,791 2.24% 13,356 1.14% 12,319 0.72% 2,746 0.93% 14,817 26.22% 10,248 2.79% 717,742 45.07% 16,023 5.35%
Chi Hyun Chung 4,031 1.94% 6,178 2.04% 11,867 1.01% 28,763 1.69% 6,301 2.13% 1,025 1.81% 9,408 2.56% 18,037 1.13% 6,994 2.34%
Feliciano Mamani 963 0.46% 1,996 0.66% 3,216 0.27% 11,032 0.65% 2,940 0.99% 157 0.28% 4,364 1.19% 4,137 0.26% 1,342 0.45%
Invalid/blank votes 23,818 10.31% 19,230 5.98% 40,895 3.37% 71,441 4.03% 13,733 4.43% 3,262 5.45% 31,685 7.94% 90,734 5.39% 22,259 6.92%
Total votes 231,079 321,823 1,214,546 1,772,643 309,984 59,779 398,911 1,886,387 321,609
Registered voters/turnout 270,213 85.52% 368,623 87.30% 1,340,548 90.60% 1,923,305 92.17% 339,950 91.19% 72,136 82.87% 453,287 88.00% 1,683,085 89.22% 376,846 85.34%


Although the official results had not been expected for some days, quick counts performed by Ciesmori and Mi Voto Cuenta agreed that Arce won the election in the first round.[12][131] The vote count could be attended by any member of the public and the tally sheets photographed for reasons of transparency.[132] President Áñez and former president Tuto Quiroga, also both former presidential candidates in this election and opponents of MAS, congratulated Luis Arce as president elect while Evo Morales celebrated in Argentina [133][134][14] Luis Almagro, the Secretary-General of the OAS, also congratulated Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca on their victory, noting that democracy "will create a bright future for Bolivia."[135] CC candidate Carlos Mesa recognised Arce as winner in the first round based on the preliminary results and accepted a mandate as the leader of the opposition.[15] On 23 October, after the completion of the official vote count, Creemos candidate Luis Camacho also publicly acknowledged the results.[136]

Political allies of Evo Morales, including Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo (President and Vice-President of Nicaragua), Andrés Manuel López Obrador (President of Mexico), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (former President of Brazil), Rafael Correa (former President of Ecuador), Nicolás Maduro (President of Venezuela), and Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner (President and Vice-President of Argentina), congratulated the Arce-Choquehuanca ticket on their victory.[137][138][139][140] The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, sent congratulations to Arce for his victory and expressed hope that the United States and Bolivia could work together on joint interests in the future.[141][142] Arce has indicated that he is open to working with the US in the future after nine years of broken diplomatic relations as well as resuming diplomatic ties with Venezuela and Cuba, which were broken during the period of the interim government.[143] A statement from the Brazilian foreign ministry congratulated Arce and expressed the nation's "willingness to work with the new Bolivian authorities to seek the implementation of initiatives of common interest in the field of friendship, neighborhood and cooperation ties that unite the two countries and their peoples."[144]

Bolivian newspaper El Deber called Arce's victory "clear and crushing" and praised him for his conciliatory statements after the result, while also emphasizing that the new president will have to appease MAS's radical wing.[145] Writing on Los Tiempos, Oscar Díaz Arnau attributed Arce's victory to MAS's strong support in rural areas, the weakness of Mesa's candidacy, Arce's moderation, lack of connection between the opposition and rural inhabitants and the candidacy of Luis Fernando Camacho splitting anti-MAS voters and weakening the opposition.[146]


On 25 October, several right-wing and conservative civic organizations in Santa Cruz like the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee and the Santa Cruz Youth Union, both allies of right-wing candidate Luis Fernando Camacho, claimed that Luis Arce was not the president-elect due to alleged fraud. Camacho and his political allies called for strikes around the country.[147][148][149][150]

In order to mitigate their loss of the two-thirds supermajority in the legislature, MAS parliamentarians used the last few days of the outgoing assembly to make 21 changes to the rules of procedure that formerly required a two-thirds majority so that they could now be passed with only a simple majority.[151] Some opposition parliamentarians left the session in protest.[152][153][154][155][156] Opposition leader Carlos Mesa condemned the changes, saying "Authoritarianism, abuse and the submission of the Legislative Assembly continue".[157] MAS Senator Omar Aguilar supported the amendments, asking, "Are we going to block the governance of Luis Arce just because we lack three senators in this chamber?"[158] The corresponding session in the House of Deputies lasted less than 20 minutes without any discussion of the amendments being made.[159] Outgoing MAS president of the Senate Eva Copa said that the amendments will "speed up the legislative task."[160]

President-elect Arce endorsed the changes, saying that the decision "wakes up [the government]" for the incoming assembly. "What our Assembly has done is maintain legality. There are many laws that are going to be approved with two-thirds. That is established by the regulations and there should be no concern", he said.[160]

On 5 November, president-elect Luis Arce was attacked using dynamite at his campaign house in La Paz.[161] On 14 November, Jorge Valda, a Pro-Santa Cruz Committee attorney who claimed fraud in the elections, was arrested and sent to La Paz where he was convicted for legitimation of illicit profits.[162] Arce was inaugurated on 8 November 2020.


On 1 February 2021, the government of Luis Arce declared 18 October 2020, the date of the general elections, to be the "Day of recovery of intercultural democracy".[163] Previously, 10 October 1982 has been considered the day of Bolivia's return to democracy as it was the date in which Guido Vildoso and the military returned power to the democratically elected Hernán Siles Zuazo. The decree instructs that the ministries, in coordination with the Autonomous Territorial Entities, as well as social organizations and civil society, organize activities to celebrate democratic values, the reestablishment and preservation of intercultural democratic institutions. The move was criticised by Carlos Mesa who called it "an affront to the citizens who conquered democracy on 10/10/82."[164]


  1. ^ Coalition consisting of PDC and UCS
  2. ^ Coalition consisting of FRI, JESUCA and Chuquisaca Para Todos
  3. ^ Coalition consisting of FRI, JESUCA and Chuquisaca Para Todos
  4. ^ Coalition consisting of PDC and UCS
  5. ^ Null 1.3%/Blank 4.8%
  6. ^ With undecided and non-voters excluded
  7. ^ With undecided and non-voters excluded
  8. ^ Also includes Blank/Null/No Response
  9. ^ None/Blank
  10. ^ None/Blank
  11. ^ With undecided and non-voters excluded
  12. ^ 7.1 Blank, 10.6 Null
  13. ^ With undecided and non-voters excluded
  14. ^ 6.6 Blank, 2.7 Null
  15. ^ 16.6% Undecided, 6.1% secret
  16. ^ With undecided and non-voters excluded
  17. ^ With undecided and non-voters excluded
  18. ^ Polled as ADN candidate
  19. ^ Polled with Ismael Schabib as ADN candidate
  20. ^ Patzi with 1%, Doria Medina with 1%
  21. ^ Generic MAS candidate
  22. ^ Andrónico Rodríguez
  23. ^ Andrónico Rodríguez
  24. ^ David Choquehuanca
  25. ^ Luis Arce Catacora
  26. ^ Albarracín with 1.1%, others with 9.9%
  27. ^ Andrónico Rodríguez
  28. ^ 10.0 Blank, 1.6 Null
  29. ^ 10.6 No response, 2.7 Won't say
  30. ^ 10.4 Blank, 2.0 Null
  31. ^ 12.2 No response, 2.7 Won't say
  32. ^ 22.6 Blank, 5.8 Null
  33. ^ 9.6 No response, 2.9 Won't say
  34. ^ a b Compared to the annulled 2019 elections.


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