Unlike Neighbors, Bolivia’s Morales Contains Corruption Fallout

Unlike Neighbors, Bolivia’s Morales Contains Corruption Fallout
An Aymara woman casts her ballot during regional elections, Huarina, Bolivia, March 29, 2015 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

The city of El Alto, Bolivia, should be a stronghold for President Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party. Perched on the Andean Plateau above its sister-city La Paz, the sprawling, fast-growing El Alto is considerably poorer and more indigenous than the capital. Almost three-quarters of its almost 1 million inhabitants are, like Morales, ethnically Aymara, and in the past voters have supported the president and other MAS candidates by large margins. On March 29, however, things took a turn in regional elections as the party lost dramatically in both the El Alto mayoral and the La Paz department gubernatorial races. The defeats headlined a broader wave of opposition victories in regional elections across Bolivia.

While the losses may appear simply to be a blow to Morales—now entering his 10th year in office, the longest-serving president in Latin America—they are in fact more complicated. They reflect both a protest vote against recent corruption scandals within the MAS and a growing disconnect between voters’ support for Morales and their opinion of the rest of the party.

In El Alto, corruption brought Bolivians to the polls to vote against the MAS. A recently leaked video had captured the incumbent MAS candidate for mayor, Edgar Patana, accepting a packet of what appeared to be cash in 2008, while he was head of the central regional labor union. Voters took note and resoundingly chose opposition candidate Soledad Chapeton by an almost 2-to-1 margin, a dramatic reversal from Patana’s nine-point margin of victory over Chapeton in 2010.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review