In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Bolivians back Morales in vote triumph

Posted by alfied on August 11, 2008

Partial results give Bolivian President Evo Morales a clear victory in a referendum designed as a litmus test for his socialist reforms.

Partial results from nearly half of country’s polling stations show that nearly 64 percent of Bolivians voted in support of the mandate of Morales and his Vice-President Alvaro Garcia.

The majority is 10 percent more than the majority which won Morales the presidency in 2006.

Addressing a happy crowd from the balcony of the government palace in La Paz, Morales called on Bolivians to continue on the path towards social reform in Latin America’s poorest country.

“We are here to continue recovering natural resources and the consolidation of nationalization,” he said.

Sunday’s recall vote was proposed to confirm support for reforms designed to give Bolivia’s poor indigenous population a greater share of national wealth and political power amid opposition from the country’s richer states.

Eight of the country’s nine state governors also faced regional elections. Two state governors who oppose Morales’ reforms lost their positions and one Morales supporter was also ousted in the state of Oruro.

The referendum revealed the deep divisions in Bolivian society with three of the country’s richest states voting against Morales by a wide margin.

Opposition governors are angry about reforms which have redistributed windfall profits from natural gas extraction and land reforms intended to give more power to small farmers.

The vote will be seen as a further swing to the left among Latin American leaders such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva in Brazil.

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