By Katu Arkonada on December 8, 2018

Evo MoralesThe recent decision of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia to allow primaries for 8 parties for the general elections begins the electoral process for the presidential election that will take place in October 2019.

The 7 opposition parties, and the ruling party that is presenting Evo Morales, as candidate for president, and Álvaro García Linera, as candidate for vice-president, will have to go through a primary process on January 27, which will be pure formality, since no competing candidates have been presented by each party or coalition. This is something that is logical in the ruling party of in the case of the MAS-IPSP (The Movement for Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples) but in the case of the rest of the vying entities, repeats the logic of the old political party system.

The decision to enable the Evo-Álvaro ticket has been harshly contested by an opposition that is trying to inject the idea that Bolivia run by a dictatorship, following the account that Bolivia said No in a referendum, and therefore Evo Morales’ decision to run again is unconstitutional.

In the first place, the media and political opposition seems to forget that in 2006, 2007 and 2008, while they beat and humiliated peasants and indigenous people in the squares of Sucre and Santa Cruz, or when they attacked the building of the Constituent Assembly with sticks of dynamite, while inside the correlation of opposition forces imposed the point of a single presidential re-election (something that was not in the initial draft of the Constitution).

The same opposition also forgets that on February 21, 2016, it could only win a referendum (51-49 percent) through the biggest campaign of lies and manipulation in Bolivian political history, in what was the beginning of fake news in Bolivia. In this case it was the manufacturing news of a non-existent son of Evo Morales, to install in the imagery of the population the idea of that the president was dishonest and connected to corruption.

In any case, it is true that article 168 of the Political Constitution of the State (CPE) indicates that the president and vice-president can only be re-elected once on a continuous basis.  But it is also true that when MAS promoted a referendum, to modify this article, it won by 136,000 votes over those who promoted the option of No to the constitutional reform to allow Evo Morales to be re-elected.

From there, as a result of the political conflict inherent in Bolivian society, but also in the correlation of forces, the MAS examined the different ways to move forward to democratically present Evo Morales as its candidate.

Four avenues were put on the table, all of them constitutional: to hold a referendum again, this time by citizens’ initiative; to reform the Constitution through the 2/3 majority of the MAS in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly; or authorization for resignation, which implied relying on article 170 of the CPE and resigning before fulfilling their mandate.

Finally, MAS decided on a fourth option, a recourse to the Plurinational Constitutional Court based on article 256 of the CPE, which indicates that international treaties signed or ratified by Bolivia, and which declare rights more favorable to the Constitution itself, prevail over the constitution.

This is where the American Convention on Human Rights comes into play, commonly known as the Pact of San José, and signed by Bolivia, which establishes in article 23 that all citizens can vote and be elected, and that the only limit to the exercise of this right is for reasons of age, nationality, residence, language, instruction, civil or mental capacity, or conviction, by a competent judge, in criminal proceedings.

And since all constitutions are made to be interpreted by a single institution qualified to do so, the Constitutional Court of each country, the one of Bolivia interpreted that, faced with the conflict between articles and norms, and in a strict reading of the Constitution, it should pronounce itself taking the least restrictive decision for the civil and political rights of Evo Morales, enabling him to run again.

The conflict in the upcoming days is going to be the tonic throughout 2019 once the primary elections of January take place. It will then become a season of fragmented media, a political opposition with neoliberalism as the main candidates, who in the absence of a country project will seek to destabilize the government to prevent it from concentrating on public policies favorable of the great majority of Bolivians and good economic management.

On the other side, a MAS followers that although after 12 years of government sees its political hegemony weakened, still has the only post-neoliberal political project. It is a party-movement that is the largest in the history of Bolivia, and has a leadership like the one of Evo Morales, which synthesizes and crystallizes the dreams, aspirations and imaginations of the popular classes.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau

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