Monday, August 11, 2008

Great news from Bolivia

Yesterday's referendum to recall the President, Vice President and Eight State Governors has been a stupendous success and a real step forward in attempting to quell the right wing resistance to progressive reforms in Bolivia.

In a bold move the country's leftist President, Evo Morales, put his own position on the line to demonstrate there was real backing for his Presidency and around 60% of the population came out in his support. I wonder what Gordon Brown or George Bush would get if they ever had the courage to make such a move?

As an icing on the cake the State Governor of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa (who I've posted about before), has been shown the door by the good people of the region. As you might expect with these anti-democratic weasels he's refusing to go, saying the Governor's Palace is far too comfortable, or something. I think it's true to say - they don't like it up 'em.

Let's a take a look at these results in a bit more detail;


Si No Si No Si No Si No
Santa Cruz 66 34 67,2 32,8 35 65 39 61
Beni 65 35 61,1 38,9 37 63 43 57
Pando 61 39 58,7 41,3 43 57 49 51
Tarija 61 39 64,4 35,6 38 62 47 53
Cochabamba 42 58 40,5 59,5 64 36 71 29

41 59 46 54
Potosi 64 36 75,5 24,5 79 21 79 21
Oruro 39 61 44,9 55,1 79 21 81 19
La Paz 41 59 44 56 80 20 81 19

NB on the chart:
TVB is the preliminary, apporximate count, ATB is the official figure.
PAT and UNITEL are two (rightwing) TV stations.

A few notes on the governors who will now be temporarily replaced by appointment whilst new elections are called. The Cochabama and La Paz governors, who both lost their seats are members of the right wing Podemos party and for the "autonomy" of the white, rich regions from the Bolivian government.

The governor of Oruro (a strong mining district) is from the ruling MAS. You can see, when you compare this to the strong support Morales received in this area that there were specific concerns about the governor (I think revolving around corruption and incompetence) rather than about MAS more generally and it's likely when the new election takes place that MAS will retain the seat, with a new candidate (so actually it's quite a good result because it's given Oruro the opportunity to get rid of an "ineffective" MAS governor).

A good day for democracy all round - that's really cheered me up!

Video of Morales addressing cheering supporters (BBC)
Story reported in La Prensa.
Eye witness from La Paz giving a good feel of the mood yesterday.
Carl Packman in the New Statesman.
Richard Gott in the Guardian

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