Several hours after the closing of the polling stations, there was no data in the exit of the polls and the officials arrived at the drop of a hat. Evo Morales raises suspicions.
As the night progressed this Sunday, unease grew in Bolivia. More than four hours after the polling stations closed, there were still no results from the presidential elections.
The vote counting was proceeding slowly while voters were on the lookout for the winner of the presidential elections, after a quiet election day with high turnout that contrasted with the tension that preceded the crucial vote.
One of the first to react was former President Evo Morales, who from his exile in Buenos Aires wrote on Twitter that he found it “strange and worrying” the delay of the unofficial private pollsters, who had promised data at the exit of the exit and Until about 10:30 p.m., Bolivian time, they still did not provide data.
Given the delay in the start of the official count, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Salvador Romero, said at night that “it was a complex election at a delicate juncture in which it is convenient to underpin the certainty of the results”, which called on politicians and citizens to wait for results “with patience.”
Romero had said before that the final result could be known between three and five days later of the elections, but on Sunday night he did not give a deadline. The law contemplates seven days.
In the absence of official results, Bolivians kept their television screens glued to the results of unofficial exit polls. However, these they were also delayed, which increased nervousness.
Luis Arce, from the Movement to Socialism (MAS), Morales’ party, came as a favorite against the former centrist president Carlos Mesa, second the polls. If those results were confirmed by the official count, there could be a second round on November 28.
The businessman and former right-wing civic leader, Luis Fernando Camacho -of the CREEMOS organization and whom the polls placed third- could be key in a possible dispute between Arce and Mesa in the event that neither wins in the first round and they have to go to a ballot, as some polls predict.
At night, in the face of uncertainty, analysts were cautious. The elections were close and “any result can occur” between Arce and Mesa, “even with a winner in the first round. The important thing is that everyone accepts the result” because “the people were exhausted from the political confrontation,” said the former deputy and analyst Jimena Costa at Radio Panamericana.
Both Morales and Arce said they will respect the results.
“Not knowing the results is the least desirable scenario because it could escalate violence and we have already exhausted our option of a transitional government,” sociologist María Teresa Zegada told the same medium.
Bolivians came to the polls amidst a polarized weather after the annulment of last year’s elections due to allegations of fraud, which caused a social outbreak that left 36 dead and forced the resignation of Morales after almost 14 years in power. The pandemic aggravated polarization and the country experienced a tense campaign.
In these elections, Morales risks his political future despite not being a candidate. Analysts believed that his party runs the risk of losing political hegemony that he had for over a decade.
Against all forecasts, the day passed calm and peaceful, according to authorities and international observers. Voters endured rain, sun and long lines to cast their votes in a slow vote due to protocols that the pandemic forced.
“The people have an admirable civic spirit and that is valuable in a country that has had to repeat its electoral process,” said Francisco Guerrero, from the observer mission of the Organization of American States (OAS).
In a message to the country after the polling stations closed, the interim president Jeanine Áñez thanked the Bolivians “for the quiet day” and asked “patience to wait for the results without generating violence.”