LA PAZ – Bolivian opposition parties gained ground in departmental and municipal elections, dominating in four of the nine departments of Bolivia and at least six of the 10 main municipalities, according to exit polls and projections.
Pre-empting soon to be announced official results, market research company Ipsos MORI released unofficial data now appearing in the media.
According to these surveys, President Evo Morales’ governing party won four of nine departments, while the opposition won three and will force two other departments to a second round of voting.
Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) should be returned with over 50 percent in the departments of Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosi and Pando, a return the opposition appears to have matched in Santa Cruz, and crucially achieved in La Paz and El Alto, ringing in changes of administration.
Felix Patzi of Aymar origin and a MAS dissident should be the next governor of La Paz with a probable 52 percent of the vote.
Perhaps the most resounding victory will be that of Soledad Chapeton in El Alto, considered a bastion of support for Morales with a predominantly ethnic Aymara population.
In spite of not winning outright, the opposition also polled well enough to be confident going into a second round in Tarija, where an MAS representative has governed since the dismissal of an opposition governor elected in 2010.
The Bolivian government blamed the defeats in La Paz and El Alto on “weakness” in the formation of local leadership.
“We understand it is the message of the people. We evaluated that this has to do with the weakness in the formation of local leadership, both at the departmental level and at the municipal level,” said Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera.
Responding to a euphoric opposition, Linera drew a distinction between general and regional elections.
Morales and Linera were re-elected in October 2014 for a third mandate running to 2020, with huge support and 61 percent of the vote.