LA PAZ – Bolivia’s top election authority said that the “No” option garnered the support of 54.3 percent of the voters, with 80 percent of the votes counted, in the weekend referendum to determine whether to reform the Bolivian Constitution to give President Evo Morales the chance to run for a third consecutive term.
The percentage represents more than 2.3 million votes out of a total 4.2 million tallied so far by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, or TSE.
The “Yes” option received the support of 45.6 percent of the voters, or more than 1.9 million votes.
Earlier on Monday, Morales had urged Bolivians to wait for the official results of the referendum even as exit polls and the preliminary tabulation pointed to a victory for the “No” side.
“We must wait for the results with much serenity. No partying before it’s time,” Morales told a press conference in La Paz, his first appearance after Sunday’s voting.
Exit polls released four hours after the polls were closed indicated a 2 percent victory for the “No” side.
More than 6.5 million Bolivians were eligible to vote in the referendum on a possible reform to extend from two terms to three the number of consecutive presidential terms allowed, which would enable Morales and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera to run for office again in 2019.
The president insisted that the nation must still wait for results from the countryside because, he said, previous experiences have shown that voters in rural areas have changed the general trend of an election.
Morales believes the opposition’s celebrations before the final tally are part of a plan to claim fraud later on if the “Yes” vote makes a comeback and ends up winning.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, took office in 2006, started his second term in 2010 and the third in January 2015.
Although the new constitution enacted in 2009 limits the president to two consecutive terms, Morales was able to run in 2014 thanks to a court decision that concluded his first term did not count against the total because it began prior to the adoption of the new charter.