22 February 2016
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales during a press conference in La Paz, Bolivia. | Photo: teleSUR
The outcome of the referendum will decide if presidential term limits will be extended for President Morales.
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said Monday that the right-wing opposition is celebrating too early by saying he was defeated in the Sunday’s referendum vote that will decide whether he can run for re-election one last time in 2019.
The leader called on his supporters to be patient and wait for the final results. He also praised the participation of people in rural areas, since they are committed to defend the revolutionary process in Bolivia.
Votes from remote and isolated communities not in yet
Late Monday Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Liñera warned that the preliminary results of the country’s national referendum, showing a narrow lead for the “No” vote, are likely to change as the remote and isolated communities where the ruling party enjoys the most support are taken into the consideration in the official vote count.
“We believe that these results will likely change in the coming hours as the official count is made,” Garcia said at a press conference Sunday after polls closed.
The vice president said the exit polls showed a technical tie between the Yes and No camps with a difference of just 2 percent and recalled that in previous elections polling often failed to fully take into consideration votes from rural communities.
Bolivia, one of the most democratic countries in the world
“The best, healthiest is to wait for the official results,” said Garcia, thanking Bolivians for their participation and calling on the population to be patient in waiting for the results.
“We are one of the most democratic countries in the world, and that has been shown again today with the large turnout,” said the vice president.
With nearly 40 percent of ballots counted, the “No” side in Bolivia’s national referendum to determine whether presidential term limits will be extended has taken a narrow lead over the “Yes” vote that would see President Evo Morales be able to seek another term in office in 2019.
According to reports from Bolivia’s electoral authorities, the ‘No’ side is leading with 58 percent in 12,891 of the 29,224 electoral tables that have reported.
IN DEPTH: Bolivia Referendum
Over six million registered voters participated in over 29,000 polling stations
However exit polls by Ipsos and other sources have the race as much closer, with the “No” vote ahead by just 2 percent with 51 percent versus 49 percent for the “Yes” side. Final results are expected within 48 hours of polls closing.
Over six million registered voters participated in over 29,000 polling stations across the country on Sunday after a referendum campaign that pitted “Yes” campaign supporters of the Morales government against the opposition-backed “No” campaign, including what the president claimed was a coordinated smear campaign against his name.
The “No” to modifying the 2009 constitution to allow for a third consecutive presidential term means that Morales will not be allowed to represent his MAS or Movement Toward Socialism party in the 2019 elections. MAS will now face the task of selecting new leadership in the lead-up to the next election.
Bolivia’s constitution allows for one consecutive re-election. While the referendum held the potential to modify the limits to allow for three consecutive terms for president and vice president, the two-term limit will remain unchanged.
First elected in 2005, Evo Morales is Bolivia’s longest-serving president.