Bolivia: an assessment of the 2020 national elections


By Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores of Bolivia

Amid irregularities in the counting of the votes by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), the suspension of the DIREPRE, marked ballots found in the provinces, fraud reports, the suspension of the transmission of the slow counting for almost an hour, protests at the doors of the departmental electoral bodies, official data at the 83% of the counting establish that the pair of MAS and Arce-Choquehuanca wins with 54.42% of the votes, while Carlos Mesa is at 29.34% followed by Camacho with 14.13%. With this trend, the MAS returns to the Executive and would have the majority in the Parliament. Áñez’s administration officially acknowledged the victory of the MAS as well as Mesa and the representative of the OAS, Luis Almagro.


Bolivia is going through a period of insurrectionary mass struggles and not of defeats by coup d’etats in which the elections are not established in a deviation of the revolutionary process. In November of 2019, the mass mobilization overturned Evo Morales and defeated the Bonapartist plan of the MAS and its paramilitary semi-fascist arm composed of armed officials and lumpens that were about to massacre the caravans of miners, teachers and students in the road of Challapata and Vila Vila.

It emerged after the administration of Añéz, by constitutional succession after the flight of the presidents of the upper and lower houses that could succeed Evo. The new government, extremely weak and with the duty of ensuring the elections, was almost overturned on two occasions. The first was in November of last year, after the confrontations of Sacaba and Senkata when it was impossible to govern due to the rejection of the bases of the COB to the deaths of indigenous people and neighbors. However, it was saved by the bureaucracy of the parent entity of the workers that, instead of calling a general strike, answered the pleas of Añéz for dialogue and singed a governability pact based on carrying out elections to restitute the damaged bourgeois institutionalism.

Later in July of this year, the workers bases defeated the union silence imposed by the bureaucracy of Huarachi. The COB voted the centralization of the struggles through the slogan “Health, Work and Education,” leaving aside the elections.  The first great march fenced the Palace of Government. “Áñez out” was chanted and power was within the reach of the mobilized workers. In August, there was a new general strike called by the COB, but the union bureaucracy incorporated a new electoral slogan dividing the struggles and ended agreeing on a new truce, saving Áñez from falling at the hands of the insurrection.

Thus the struggles were deviated towards the dead end of the elections and only that way was the oligarchy able to breathe and organize them in October. That way, in relation to the powerful mobilizations that in several occasions proposed the possibility of overturning Áñez and form a government of the workers and farmers with the COB as the body of double power, the electoral exit is a relative setback.

This situation allowed the masses to completely fall into the electoral trap of the democratic reaction and that there they focus on the confrontation of three candidates: Arce of the MAS, Mesa of the CC and Camacho of Creemos.  

In this scenario, the MAS was benefited by the disastrous administration of Áñez, characterized by economic and social crisis that was worsened by the pandemic. The candidates Mesa and Camacho were politically related to that administration. Their campaign was solely based on preventing the previous administration from returning to power. Meanwhile the MAS changed its policy and adapted to the new situation:

It went from a hard, Bonapartist and paramilitary policy, with a defeat in between, to national and conciliatory unity. It changed candidates leaving behind the worn-out and overturned image of Evo Morales that generated aversion among wide sectors of workers and the youth, placing a middle-class candidate, Arce, and a candidate with influence among farmers and indigenous people, Choquehuanca. It left behind the confrontation line with the COB for having requested Evo’s resignation, to then reconcile with its leaders, taking direct control of the dual power body. Under its influence in the COB, it sent clear messages to the bourgeoisie that they were the most suitable to deviate the insurrectional struggles in favor of safeguarding the bourgeois institutionalism.

After the betrayal of the workers and farmers leaders, his proselytizing campaign had more impact, inciting the fear that a government of right-wing parties linked to the terrible administration of Áñez would be worse that the MAS. The media contributed to this without elaborating on any serious debate or analysis of the program of each party that, deep down, did not have any substantial difference between them. Thus, the MAS electorally recomposed itself.    


Following the emission of the unofficial results on October the 19th, Arce said in a press conference: “we are going to build a government of national unity.” In the same sense, Evo Morales expressed from Argentina: “we will govern with agreement between parties, business owners and workers.” It is clearly a message to the bourgeoisie, the oligarchy and the imperialism, announcing a conciliatory project between the confronted classes with the purpose of building a Bourgeois State cracked by the mass mobilization. It was a message similar to the government they established in 2006 in which the firefighters were the ones that controlled the fire of the revolutionary uprising of 2003 and 2005 in which the governments of Sánchez de Lozada and Mesa fell. On that occasion, they proposed the expulsion of imperialism, the nationalization of hydrocarbons and the expropriation of the oligarchy together with the formation of a government of the workers and farmers. With the reconciliation of classes, the MAS managed to save the dominant class: instead of nationalizing and expelling imperialism, they only changed the contracts with the transnationals.  The oligarchy benefited from the legalization of their illicit lands in the Pact of the Constituent Assembly. The Bourgeois State that was hurt by the insurrections was reconstituted.

Facing the mass mobilizations that put Áñez at the edge of the abyss, the MAS sought to repeat history by being the firefighter that saves the bourgeoisie from the fire of revolution. However, this time the socio-economic conditions are different from 2006, when the prices of raw materials were booming allowing them to make useless social reforms. Now that the economy is sinking with the fall of the Gross Domestic Product that, according to the World Bank, will be at -7.3%, the MAS needs to apply a greater austerity measure placing the crisis on the shoulders of workers   


The protests against the fraudulent system did not wait. The data shows the MAS as the winner, but in reality the overwhelming percentage is not perceived before the massive and spontaneous protests at the Departmental Electoral Courts (TED). Even more so when it manages to win in Chuquisaca, a bastion of the struggle against Evo Morales and the recovery of the Incahuasi hydrocarbons that the MAS handed over to the transnationals, and in Potosi, a bastion that managed to reverse the handing over of the lithium that the MAS gave to German imperialism. The truth is that the elections were held with the same fraudulent rules approved by the MAS in its previous government, and it was the same Masista parliament that designated the main members of the TSE, with the sole exception of Salvador Romero who was designated by the Executive. One day before the vote, they announced the suspension of the Dissemination of Preliminary Results (DIREPRE), and in full elections, complaints arrived about ballots marked in favor of the MAS in the provinces near La Paz and Santa Cruz. After the vote, no official results were released. They began a slow count that was suspended on October 20 for nearly an hour.

The greatest fraud was committed by the TSE in the use and abuse of the anti-democratic Political Parties Law approved by the dictator Bánzer and in the arbitrary distribution of the Electoral Register among the constituencies for the election of single-member representatives, through which they incorporated, to those traditionally urban, sub-urban areas with a high presence of farmer migrants. This maneuver, among others, allows the TSE to increase the parliamentary representation of the MAS.


 The fraudulent elections and the victory of the Mas were also smoothed over by the absence of a revolutionary left-wing leadership with mass influence that, firstsly, had to dispute the leadership of the COB with the policy of that body taking power by leading the insurrectional struggle to victory. Secondly, that this alternative, although it is a relative minority, would have run for the elections, channeling the expectations towards a front of class independence, and could not do so because of the anti-democratic laws of the fraudulent system. Under these circumstances, parties of the bourgeoisie like the MAS took advantage.


The elections have not closed the revolutionary uprising of the masses, just as they have not resolved anything of the economic and social crisis. They have only diverted the struggles, but have not defeated them. It is true that they represent a reflux in relation to the previous general strike and the centralization of the struggles achieved two months ago, but the sectoral mobilizations continue, precisely because the demands for health, food, work, wages, retirement, labor stability, education, are urgent in the midst of the crisis, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Today, the strike of health workers continues, the protest of factory workers and miners for labor stability continues, and more sectors in struggle will join in. In view of the economic depression of the -7.3% fall in the annual GDP, and -11.11% of its fall in the second quarter of 2020, the MAS government will implement austerity measures against the workers, and we must prepare for that battle.


In view of the situation described above, in the situations of insurrectional struggle, we call for the struggle for the “Áñez Out” and the Masista parliament, to prepare the government of the COB, the representative and centralizing body of the masses opposed to the bourgeois State apparatus and its oligarchic parties. In the face of the electoral deviation of the struggles, the fraudulent system and candidates of the oligarchy, we call for a void vote to build an alternative of class independence and to take away the legitimacy of the bourgeois institutions and their parties. In the official count of the TSE the null represents 3.3% (at 83% of the vote).

In view of the crisis that is burdening the workers’ backs and the austerity measures that the MAS already implemented in its previous administration, Áñez supported it and now Arce will implement it, we call for not trusting that government. It is urgent to fight to recover the class independence in the COB and to centralize the struggles to defeat the economic adjustment, for labor stability, wage leveling, fair retirement pensions, for the incorporation of doctors, airport workers into the general labor law, for a decent health system for the people, for a bigger budget for public education in defense of indigenous territory and protected areas, and to end the incendiary laws of transnational agribusiness.

It is necessary to demand the Congress of the COB new class and combat leaderships, to prepare a plan of struggle, towards the workers’ and peasants’ government, to put an end to the landowning oligarchy and expel the imperialist transnationals, by laying the bases for the construction of a real Socialist Bolivia in struggle for international socialism.

These are tasks that require the construction of a revolutionary leadership of the working class, of a truly revolutionary party, the embryo of which is the MST, and to which we invite the working, indigenous, farmer and youth vanguard to join.