Bolivia’s Arce Passes His First Political Test

Bolivia’s Arce Passes His First Political Test
Bolivian President Luis Arce addresses the nation at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, Jan. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia—Last Sunday’s local and regional elections in Bolivia were President Luis Arce’s first political test since he took office in November. Official results are still being tabulated, as the process was delayed by a cyberattack this week on the electoral commission’s website, which authorities said came from outside the country. But exit polls, which have proven reliable in the past, indicate mixed results for Arce’s political party, the Movement for Socialism.

Known in Bolivia as the MAS, the party won governorships in three states, and will head to a second-round runoff in four others. Only in the county’s most populous state of Santa Cruz, a conservative stronghold, did the MAS lose resoundingly—and to one of its arch enemies. The governor-elect, far-right firebrand Luis Fernando Camacho, is currently under investigation for the prominent role he played in the November 2019 ouster of former President Evo Morales, the MAS’ leader, amid violent protests over Morales’ disputed reelection win.

The MAS only won in two of the key mayoral races last weekend, in the small cities of Sucre and Potosi, with a smattering of local parties winning the rest. The most stunning victory went to the 34-year-old Eva Copa, a former social worker and senator who will lead Bolivia’s second-largest city, the predominantly Indigenous and working-class El Alto.

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