MORALES AIDE CLAIMS VICTORY IN BOLIVIA’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Evo Morales’ party claimed victory in a presidential election that appeared to reject the right-wing policies of the interim government that took power in Bolivia after the leftist leader resigned and fled the country a year ago, Carlos Valdez and Joshua Goodman reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Officials released no formal, comprehensive quick count of results from the vote, but two independent surveys of selected polling places showed Morales’ handpicked successor, Luis Arce, with a lead of roughly 20 percentage points over his closest rival — far more than needed to avoid a runoff. Pre-election polls had showed Arce ahead but lacking enough votes to avoid a November runoff, likely against centrist former President Carlos Mesa. To win in the first round, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote, or 40% with a lead of at least 10 percentage points over the second-place candidate.
“We still have no official count, but according to the data we have, Mr. Arce (and his running mate) have won the election,” interim President Jeanine Áñez — an archrival of Morales — said on Twitter. “I congratulate the winners and I ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind.”
Arce, meanwhile, appealed for calm in the bitterly divided nation, saying he would seek to form a government of national unity under his Movement Toward Socialism party. “I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” Arce declared around midnight surrounded by a small group of supporters, some of them in traditional Andean dress in honor of the country’s Indigenous roots.