Bolivian general election, 1980

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General elections were held in Bolivia on 29 June 1980, the third in three years.[1] As no candidate in the presidential elections received a majority of the vote, the National Congress was required to elect a President on 6 August. With Hernán Siles Zuazo of the Democratic and Popular Union the favourite to win the Congressional ballot, the process was disrupted on 17 July by the military coup led by General Luis García Meza Tejada. However, Meza was pressured to resign on 4 August 1981, resulting in General Celso Torrelio becoming President. In July 1982 he was replaced by General Guido Vildoso, who was named by the high command to return the country to democratic rule. On 17 September 1982, during a general strike that brought the country close to civil war, the military decided to step down, to reconvene the National Congress elected in 1980, and to accept its choice of President. Accordingly, the National Congress revalidated the 1980 election results on 23 September and overwhelmingly elected Hernán Siles Zuazo as President on 5 October. He subsequently assumed the presidency on 10 October 1982.[2]


General elections had previously been held in July 1978, the first since 1966, with several military coups taking place during the late 1960s and early 1970s.[1] Although Juan Pereda of the Nationalist Union of the People won the presidential elections, more votes were cast than there were registered voters.[3] After examining a number of allegations of fraud and other irregularities, the Electoral Court decided to annul the results on 20 July.[4] The following day, Pereda was installed as President following a military coup. Pereda himself was overthrown by yet another military coup in November, which saw General David Padilla assume the presidency,[5] promising to hold fresh elections in July the following year.[6]

The 1979 general elections saw no candidate for President receive over 50% of the vote, and when Congress was required to elect a President, it failed to do so after three ballots. Instead, Senate leader Wálter Guevara was elected to serve as Interim President for a year on 8 August.[7] However, Guevara was later overthrown by another military coup led by Alberto Natusch on 31 October.


Several alliances were formed for the elections:[8]

Alliance Parties
Democratic and Popular Union Communist Party
Leftwing Revolutionary Nationalist Movement
Popular Movement for National Liberation
Revolutionary Left Movement
Socialist Party–Atahuichi
Workers' Vanguard Party
Revolutionary Nationalist Movement-Alliance Communist Party of Bolivia (Marxist–Leninist)
Leftwing Revolutionary Nationalist Movement – 1
Revolutionary Nationalist Movement
Democratic Revolutionary Front-New Alternative Christian Democratic Party
National Alliance of the Left
Offensive of the Democratic Left
Socialist Party–Aponte


Election result by department:
  Departments where Paz Estenssoro won
  Departments where Siles won
Party Presidential candidate Votes % Seats
Chamber +/– Senate +/–
Democratic and Popular Union Hernán Siles Zuazo 507,173 38.7 47 +9 10 +2
Revolutionary Nationalist Movement-Alliance Víctor Paz Estenssoro 263,706 20.2 34 –14 10 –6
Nationalist Democratic Action Hugo Banzer 220,309 16.8 24 +5 6 +3
Socialist Party-1 Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz 113,959 8.7 10 +5 1 +1
Democratic Revolutionary Front-New Alternative Luis Adolfo Siles Salinas 39,401 3.0 5 New 0 New
Authentic Revolutionary Party Wálter Guevara 36,443 2.8 3 New 0 New
MNRUMIN Guillermo Bedregal 24,542 1.9 2 New 0 New
Bolivian Socialist Falange Carlos Valverde 21,372 1.6 3 New 0 New
Alliance of Nationalist Left Forces of the MNR Roberto Jordan Pando 17,150 1.3 0 New 0 New
Indian Movement Túpac Katari-One Constantino Lima 17,023 1.3 1 New 0 New
Bolivian Union Party Walter Gonzales Valda 16,380 1.3 0 –1 0 0
Indian Movement Túpac Katari Luciano Tapia Quisbert 15,852 1.2 1 0 0 0
Revolutionary Party of the Nationalist Left Juan Lechín Oquendo 15,724 1.2 0 0 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 180,450
Total 1,489,484 100 130 +13 27 0
Registered voters/turnout 2,004,284 74.3
Source: Nohlen

Congressional ballot (October 5, 1982)[edit]

Candidate Party Votes %
Hernán Siles Zuazo Democratic and Popular Union 113 79.6
Hugo Banzer Nationalist Democratic Action 29 20.4
Invalid/blank votes 4
Total 146 100
Registered voters/turnout 157 93.0
Source: Ontiveros[9]


  1. ^ a b Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume II, p133 ISBN 978-0-19-928358-3
  2. ^ Bolivia - Transition to Democracy Library of Congress Country Studies
  3. ^ Nohlen, p143
  4. ^ Waltraud Q Morales (2003) A brief history of Bolivia New York: Facts On File, p195
  5. ^ Nohlen, p157
  6. ^ 1979 IPU
  7. ^ Report on the situation of human rights in the Republic of Bolivia: Chapter IV: Political rights Archived February 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. OAS
  8. ^ Nohlen, p139
  9. ^ Luis Iriarte Ontiveros (1983) Democracia y el Congreso del 80 La Paz: Editorial Amerindia, p44