After Bolivia’s Election, Is Another ‘Pink Tide’ Rising in Latin America?

After Bolivia’s Election, Is Another ‘Pink Tide’ Rising in Latin America?
Luis Arce, then-presidential candidate for Bolivia’s Movement Toward Socialism party, at a closing campaign rally in El Alto, Bolivia, Oct. 14, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When Bolivian voters went to the polls Sunday, they started writing a new chapter in the ideological contest that has buffeted Latin America since the turn of the century. Held during the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, the results could offer a hint of what’s to come in the wake of this devastating crisis. But does it mean another “pink tide” is rising?

The winner in Bolivia was Luis Arce, the former economy minister under iconic leftist President Evo Morales, of the Movement Toward Socialism, known by its Spanish initials, MAS. Arce’s victory has created excitement across Latin America’s left and anxiety among many of the left’s critics, who fear his government will be a continuation of Morales’ policies and governing style. But during the campaign and after his rivals conceded, Arce insisted that his administration will not become Evo 2.0.

In fact, one of the president-elect’s greatest challenges will be how to deal with the larger-than-life former president, who found it almost impossible to surrender the presidency after 14 years in power and is itching to get back to Bolivia. Upon hearing the news of his protégé’s victory, Morales, living in exile in Argentina, declared: “Sooner or later we are going to return to Bolivia, that is not up for debate.” Arce says that although Morales remains the leader of the MAS, he will not ask him to join his administration.

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