Friday, May 09, 2008

Bolivia recall

In December 2007, Evo Morales proposed a recall referendum for himself and the nine prefects and in March a government spokesperson repeated the possibility—I kept asking about it but, as the AP notes, it never progressed from there. Now the Bolivian Senate has passed a bill calling for a referendum within 90 days, and Morales has said he’ll sign it.

The measure would require Morales and Bolivia's nine state governors to win both more votes and a greater percentage of support than they did on a 2005 ballot. If they fall short, they will have to run again in a new general election.

Bolivian state governors did not immediately react to the president's announcement, but most have previously said they would participate in such a vote.

Morales won 1,544,374 votes and 53.7% in the 2005 presidential election, so will have to surpass those numbers. The AP article also correctly notes that his popularity remains over 50% (last poll was 54%) despite the fact that polls center on urban areas, and there is no doubt that the government will mobilize the rural electorate. Of course, a lot can happen in 90 days, but at this point his position is solid. A win would legitimize his presidency even further and improve his bargaining position vis-à-vis the regional autonomy movements.

See also Boz and Miguel.


Miguel Centellas 4:49 PM  

If the referendum goes forward, a lot can happen in 90 days. But Evo is (I think) in a delicate position. 54% approval is much lower than his numbers when he was sworn in (in the high 80s!). So "approval" may not translate into "votes." Basically, it's going to be a turnout game: which side gets more of its "base" to vote (or manage to prevent the other side from voting).

Greg Weeks 8:53 AM  

He might be lower, but still relatively high. I have to think the chances of winning are currently very high. Obviously, the issue of violence is a wild card.

Miguel Centellas 9:57 AM  

In a way, of course, the two contests aren't the same. In 2005 Evo won 53.7% of vote in a multiparty contest against other people. It's not the same dynamic as a yes/no vote w/o other contenders. But since 2005, he has lost much of the middle class support that was instrumental in helping him win (he would've won, but only by plurality).

Greg Weeks 10:11 AM  

I don't see how a multi-candidate race makes it easier to win more votes. If anything, the logic would quite possibly be the reverse.

However, one difference is that this isn't a strict recall vote. People can vote strategically against Evo now to send a signal, knowing he would get a new election anyway (at which time they might vote for him).

Justin Delacour 2:04 PM  

The AP article also correctly notes that his popularity remains over 50% (last poll was 54%) despite the fact that polls center on urban areas, and there is no doubt that the government will mobilize the rural electorate.

Important to remember that Bolivia's pollsters totally blew their electoral projections in 2005. (I'm sure Miguel knows this, but he conveniently leaves that part out of his "analysis"). The pollsters had Quiroga and Morales running neck-and-neck into the final days of the campaign. Morales ended up winning with more than a 20-point spread. In other words, it's easily possible that Morales' approval rating is considerably higher than the pollsters suggest.

Boli-Nica 5:55 PM  

Discussions of whether Morales will win are all besides the point.

The opposition is doing this to preempt the officialist party from a referendum approving the draft Constitution.

They operate on the assumption that Evo will most certainly win. Actually, it is safe to say that most of the opposition wants Evo to finish his term. No one wants the hot potato of the presidency handed to them.

Miguel Centellas 10:34 PM  

Evo's support may very well be higher than pollsters suggest. Which is why I don't care about the number the pollsters gives. What matters is the trend. Evo hit a high in the 90s in the early months of his presidency. He has since declined into the 50s. That trend is likely reflected across the country (it might not, of course). I also give a lot more weight to his El Alto numbers (which can serve as a proxy for the countryside, since El Alto is "Evo political territory").

And, yes, it's harder to get votes in a multiparty contest. But I think in 2005 Evo was running against a number of anti-Evo options. If the election is merely about Evo (and the MNR, PODEMOS, UN, et al votes can rally together) ... and if Evo's support has eroded ... this could prove problematic.

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