It seems that Luis Arce, from the socialist MAS party, has won the election in Bolivia. He is a member of the same party as former President Evo Morales, who, following a controversial election result last year, was forced to leave.
Some 53% of Bolivians voted for the former minister of Economic Affairs, according to exit polls. He would have won enough votes to be president without a second round being needed. Carlos Mesa, his main rival, seems to have received 30.8% of the vote.
The number of votes is even more than the MAS party itself had anticipated.
The challenges for Arce are enormous. The economy has collapsed and demand for raw materials from Bolivia has fallen. Arce also has less charisma than his predecessor Morales.
Acting president Jeanine Áñez, known as a fierce opponent of the Socialist Party, congratulated Arce on Twitter.
“We don’t have any official results yet, but from the data we have now, it looks like Mr. Arce (and his running mate) won the election,” she wrote. Áñez asks them to rule with Bolivia and democracy in mind.
In a victory speech, Arce called for calm in the divided country. He promised to form a government of national unity among his party.
“I think the Bolivians want to continue on the path we had embarked on,” Arce said at midnight local time to party mates.
Bolivia is now ruled by a Conservative interim government. Due to COVID-19, the election was postponed several times.
Since the forced departure of former President Morales, the tension in Bolivia was high. There were riots in the country that killed dozens of people.
Morales was president from 2006 to 2019. He quit last year after fierce protests broke out against an election result. He lives in exile in Argentina. In August, it was announced that Morales had been charged with sexual abuse of a minor.