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Should Evo Morales have remained the Bolivian president?

Written by Comment

The situation in Bolivia is an important example of what happens when democracy goes wrong.  There have been weeks of protests following the election in October leading to political chaos as President Evo Morales resigns.

Morales faced controversy over accusations of election rigging and scrapping term limits, putting a dent in the popularity he has enjoyed for much of his time in office, winning 53.7% of the vote in his first election. Morales still has a lot of support among Bolivians for his socialist policies, which only serves to make his exit more complicated. There has also been a growing number of politically motivated attacks in Bolivia. For example, Mayor Patricia Arce recently had her hair cut and her office set alight by opposition supporters. 

Morales grew up in a rural community, the son of two farmers Image: Global Panorama on Flickr

It goes without saying that Bolivia is deeply divided. Whilst the opposition claims this was a glorious victory for democracy, Morales claims to have done nothing wrong, saying in a speech he was the victim of a “Civil, political and police coup. My sin is being indigenous, a union leader and a cocoa farmer”. And some in Bolivia wanted Morales to go but worry about who will replace him.

It’s increasingly apparent that the removal of Morales was a mistake and will not help the political situation. Morales’s government may have been growing increasingly authoritarian but his resignation seems to have done nothing but create a power vacuum and incite more civil unrest. Perhaps Morales leaving office was the right idea but if this was simply a matter of democracy, then why has he had to seek asylum in Mexico? And what happens next? Until January, they have replaced a president accused of election rigging with one that isn’t elected at all. This situation is surely no better than the one before Morales’s resignation.

Last modified: 25th November 2019

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