Landslide for Morales in Bolivia
In recent weeks a series of polls had predicted that Morales would win around 35% of the vote, but he appears to have scored something closer to 45%. This figure becomes even more impressive when we remember that it is compulsory to vote in Bolivia, and that around 20% of voters - people who would stay away from the polls if they could - normally cast blank or invalid ballots. Morales' nearest rival has a third of the vote. The last elected President of Bolivia, Sanchez de Lozada, received only 21% of the vote.
If Morales fails to win an absolute majority of the vote, Bolivia's next President will be decided by the country's National Congress, which is still dominated by conservatives. The size of Morales' victory will make it very hard, though, for the National Congress to deny him the Presidency without risking enormous protests.
What can we expect from a Morales Presidency? I made a few tentative remarks in last night's post, when I would perhaps have been better off leaving readers in the hands of experts like the folks at the upsidedownworld website, who have some fascinating material on the pressure that will be brought to bear on Morales, and on the danger of intervention by US troops deployed in nearby Paraguay.
What can be said with certainty is that the huge support for Morales is more evidence of the sharp leftward turn that Latin American has taken in recent years. No wonder the White House is worried.