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Elections in Bolivia

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Elections in Bolivia

Elections in Bolivia gives information on elections and election results in Bolivia.


Bolivia elects on national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. The president and the vice-president are elected for a five-year term by the people. The National Congress (Congreso Nacional) has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) has 130 members, elected for a five-year term using the Additional Member System, and in the case of seven indigenous seats by usos y costumbres. The Chamber of Senators (Cámara de Senadores) has 36 members: each of the country's nine departments returns four senators allocated proportionally.

Bolivia has a multi-party system, with numerous parties. During the first 23 years of renewed democracy beginning 1982, no one party succeeded in gaining power alone, and parties had to work with each other to form coalition governments. Since 2005, a single party has achieved a parliamentary majority.

Ahead of any national election a period of prohibition takes effect. This is with the intention of preventing inebriated nationals voting in error. Nationals are also forbidden from travelling around during the same period. This is to prevent voters from voting in more than one district. On polling day it is difficult to obtain a taxi or bus, due to the limitations placed upon travel and transport.

Electoral system

The president is directly elected by the people, by majority. A candidate has to receive at least 50% of the vote, or 40% of the vote, and 10% more than the second candidate to be elected, otherwise a second round is held with the top two finishers to determine the winner.

The 130 members in the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) (excluding the seven special seats) are elected using the additional member system. 63 seats are elected in single-member districts using first-past-the-post voting. 60 additional seats are elected using closed list party-list proportional representation in districts of varying sizes corresponding to Bolivia's nine departments. For parties receiving at least 3% of the national vote, the seats are distributed using the D'Hondt method, subtracting the number of seats the respective party gained from the single-member districts in the respective department. If one party has more seats from the single-member districts alone than the proportion of list vote it received, the extra seats are taken from the last allocated list seats.

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.

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.

Both the senate, and the proportional part of the Chamber of Deputies is elected based on the vote for the presidential candidates, while the deputies from the single-member districts are elected using separate votes. Party lists are required to alternate between men and women, while candidates in single-member districts are required to have an alternate, of the opposite sex. At least 50% of the single-member deputies are required to be women

Indirect elections, 1825-50

Elections were conducted in the early Republican period using multiple levels of electors, each of which would elect members of the next higher level, culminating in the President.

Direct elections with restricted suffrage, 1839 and 1850-1938

In the elections of 1839, however, the president was elected by a majority of all voters. This system became the norm beginning in 1850. Voting requirements included a minimum property or income or service in one of the professions, and forbid all those "in domestic service" from voting. Indigenous peoples were effectively excluded from the franchise.

Expanding electorate, 1938-1951

Under the Constitution of 1938, property restrictions on voting were removed however the vote was still restricted to those who male, literate, and of age. Elections were held in 1940 and 1951, and saw a dramatic expansion of the electorate.

Universal suffrage and interruptions in democracy, 1952-79

Shortly after coming to power through the 1952 Revolution, the National Revolutionary Movement instituted universal suffrage, ending literacy requirements and racial restrictions which had massively reduced the Bolivian electorate up to that time. General elections were held in 1956, 1960, and 1964; and purely legislative elections were held in 1958 and 1962. Democracy was interrupted in 1964 by René Barrientos Ortuño, who proceeded to hold and win an election in 1966 and to convoke the Constituent Assembly of 1966-67 to rewrite the Constitution of Bolivia. Following Barrientos' death in 1969, democracy was further interrupted by military rule until 1979, including the eight-year dictatorship of Hugo Bánzer Suarez.

Democratic transition and final dictatorship, 1979-82

In a chaotic period of transition marked by numerous coups d'état, three elections were held in 1978, 1979, 1980. Parliamentary majorities were not obtained in 1978 and 1979 and alliance building was interrupted by coups. Lydia Gueiler, an elected member of the National Congress assumed power constitutionally from November 1979 to mid-1980. The results of the 1980 elections were the basis for the post-1982 parliament and the 1982-85 government of Hernán Siles Zuazo.

Multiparty democracy, 1982-present

Elections have been held regularly in the democratic period that began in 1982. General elections were held in 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2005, and 2009. A Constituent Assembly was elected in 2006. The 1985 Organic Law of Municipalities restored local elections for mayor and created a legislative body, the municipal council, in each municipality. The first local elections were held in 1987, followed by further elections in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, and 2010. Similarly, departmental elections for Prefect began in 2006 and elections for Departmental Legislative Assemblies began in 2010. Following the passage of the 2009 Constitution, the National Electoral Court was replaced in late 2010 by a fourth branch of government, the Plurinational Electoral Organ, whose highest body is the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

2016 Presidential re-election referendum

On February 21, 2016, Bolivian voters rejected an amendment to the country's constitution that would have allowed President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera to run again for re-election in 2019. The amendment, if approved, would have removed Article 168 of the constitution, which allows these officeholders to put themselves forward for re-election only once. The proposed constitutional reform was approved by a combined session of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly on September 26, 2015, by a vote of 112 to 41. Law 757, which convenes the February referendum, was passed 113 to 43, and was promulgated on November 5, 2015. On February 24, Morales accepted the defeat of the proposed constitutional reform.

2015 Autonomy referendum

On September 20, 2015, five western and central departments—Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, La Paz, Oruro, and Potosí—voted on whether to approve "organic charters" (constitutions of autonomous governance), as did three municipalities and two indigenous territories. Voters in all five departments rejected their charters of autonomy, which were drafted by MAS-IPSP–led legislatures.

2014 General election

The last election for national executive and legislative offices, including President and Vice President and the Plurinational Legislative Assembly was held in late 2014, with new terms beginning 2015. In September 2010, President Evo Morales suggested he was eligible to run for re-election in 2014. However, Bolivian presidents are only eligible to be re-elected to one successive term under Article 168 of the Constitution. Morales and his supporters argued that his first term, 2006–10, was incomplete. Juan del Granado, leader of the Without Fear Movement (MSM), challenged its former ally, the Movement towards Socialism to carry out a constitutional referendum if it wanted Morales to stand for re-election. Morales proceeded to win the election with a large margin.

2011 Judicial election

The first Bolivian judicial election is scheduled to be held on 5 December 2010. However, officials of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and of the MAS majority in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly have suggested that it will be delayed into 2011. The national vote will elect magistrates to serve on the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Spanish: Tribunal Supremo de Justicia), the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (Spanish: Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional), the Agro-environmental Tribunal (Spanish: Tribunal Agroambiental), and members of the Council of the Judiciary (Spanish: Consejo de la Magistratura).

2011 Special municipal election

A special election is due be held for the mayor of five cities where mayors have stepped down or been indicted. In July 2011, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal formally convoked the elections for Mayor in three cities: Sucre, Quillacollo, and Pazña for December 18, 2011.

2010 Regional election

Departmental and municipal authorities will be elected on 4 April 2010. Among the officials to be elected are:

  • Governors of all nine departments
  • Members of Departamental Legislative Assemblies in each department; 23 seats in these Assemblies will represent indigenous communities, and have been selected by traditional usos y costumbres in the weeks prior to the election
  • Provincial Subgovernors and Municipal Corregidors (executive authorities) in Beni
  • Sectional Development Executives at the provincial level in Tarija
  • Mayors and Council members in all 337 municipalities
  • The five members of the Regional Assembly in the autonomous region of Gran Chaco
  • The political parties contesting elections in each department are as follows:

  • Beni: Amazon Convergence (Convergencia Amazónica), Beni First (Primero El Beni), Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario; MNR), Movement towards Socialism (Movimiento Al Socialismo - Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos; MAS-IPSP), and Autonomous Nationalities for Change and Empowerment (Nacionalidades Autónomas por el Cambio y Empoderamiento; NACER).
  • Chuquisaca:We are all Chuquisaca (Chuquisaca somos Todos), Renewing Freedom and Democracy (Libertad y Democracia Renovadora), Falange April 19, Without Fear Movement (Movimiento sin Miedo; MSM), and Movement towards Socialism.
  • Cochabamba: All for Cochabamba (Todos por Cochabamba), Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, Without Fear Movement, and Movement towards Socialism.
  • La Paz:National Unity Front (Frente de Unidad Nacional), Patriotic Social Alliance (Alianza Social Patriótica), Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, Movement towards Socialism, Without Fear Movement, and Movement for Sovereignty (Movimiento por la Soberanía).
  • Oruro: National Unity Front (Frente de Unidad Nacional), Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, Movement towards Socialism, and Without Fear Movement.
  • Pando: Popular Consensus (Consenso Popular), Without Fear Movement, and Movement towards Socialism.
  • Potosí: Potosí Regional Civic Front (Frente Cívico Regional Potosinista), Uqarikuna Citizen Association (Agrupación Ciudadana Uqarikuna), Social Alliance (Alianza Social), Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, Movement towards Socialism.
  • Santa Cruz: Broad Front of Revolutionary Nationalist Movement and Autonomy for Bolivia (Frente Amplio), All for Santa Cruz (Todos por Santa Cruz), Nationalist Citizen Force (Fuerza Ciudadana Nacionalista), Greens (Verdes), Without Fear Movement, and Movement towards Socialism.
  • Tarija: Path towards Change (Camino al Cambio (Alianza Departamental)), National Autonomous Power (Poder Autonómico Nacional), and Movement towards Socialism.
  • 2009 Constitutional referendum

    In elections held on 25 January 2009, Bolivian voters approved a new Constitution.

    2005 Parliamentary election


    Elections in Bolivia Wikipedia

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