Elections in Bolivia

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Elections in Bolivia gives information on elections and election results in Bolivia.

Bolivia elects on national level a head of state the president and a legislature. The president and the vice-president are elected for a five-year term by the people. The National Congress (Congreso Nacional) has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) has 130 members, elected for a five-year term using the Additional Member System, and in the case of seven indigenous seats by usos y costumbres. The Chamber of Senators (Cámara de Senadores) has 36 members: each of the country's nine departments returns four senators allocated proportionally.[1]

Bolivia has a multi-party system, with numerous parties. During the first 23 years of renewed democracy beginning 1982, no one party succeeded in gaining power alone, and parties had to work with each other to form coalition governments. Since 2005, a single party has achieved a parliamentary majority.

Ahead of any national election a period of prohibition takes effect. This is with the intention of preventing inebriated nationals voting in error. Nationals are also forbidden from travelling around during the same period. This is to prevent voters from voting in more than one district. On polling day it is difficult to obtain a taxi or bus, due to the limitations placed upon travel and transport.



Position 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Type Presidential and National Congress (December 6) Regional (April) Judicial (October 16) only special elections Presidential and National Congress (October 12) Regional (April)
President and
vice president
President and vice president None President and vice president None
National Congress All seats None All seats None
Departments, provinces, and municipalities None All positions None All positions


Position 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Type Presidential (November)
National Congress (November)
Gubernatorial (November)
None Presidential (November)
National Congress (November)
Gubernatorial (November)
President and
vice president
6 November None 6 November
National Congress 6 November None 6 November
Provinces, cities and municipalities 6 November None 6 November

Electoral system

The president is directly elected by the people, by majority. A candidate has to receive at least 50% of the vote, or 40% of the vote, and 10% more than the second candidate to be elected, otherwise a second round is held with the top two finishers to determine the winner.

The 130 members in the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) (excluding the seven special seats) are elected using the additional member system. 63 seats are elected in single-member districts using first-past-the-post voting. 60 additional seats are elected using closed list party-list proportional representation in districts of varying sizes corresponding to Bolivia's nine departments. For parties receiving at least 3% of the national vote, the seats are distributed using the D'Hondt method, subtracting the number of seats the respective party gained from the single-member districts in the respective department. If one party has more seats from the single-member districts alone than the proportion of list vote it received, the extra seats are taken from the last allocated list seats.

The remaining seven seats are reserved indigenous seats elected by the usos y costumbres, using first-past-the-post voting. A voter can only vote in one of either the normal constituencies or special constituencies.

The Chamber of Senators (Cámara de Senadores) has 36 members, four from each the country's nine departments, which are also elected using closed party-lists, using the D'Hondt method.[1]

Both the senate, and the proportional part of the Chamber of Deputies is elected based on the vote for the presidential candidates, while the deputies from the single-member districts are elected using separate votes. Party lists are required to alternate between men and women, while candidates in single-member districts are required to have an alternate, of the opposite sex. At least 50% of the single-member deputies are required to be women [1]

History of elections in Bolivia

Indirect elections, 1825-50

Elections were conducted in the early Republican period using multiple levels of electors, each of which would elect members of the next higher level, culminating in the President.[2]

Direct elections with restricted suffrage, 1839 and 1850-1938

In the elections of 1839, however, the president was elected by a majority of all voters. This system became the norm beginning in 1850. Voting requirements included a minimum property or income or service in one of the professions, and forbid all those "in domestic service" from voting. Indigenous peoples were effectively excluded from the franchise.

Expanding electorate, 1938-1951

Under the Constitution of 1938, property restrictions on voting were removed however the vote was still restricted to those who male, literate, and of age. Elections were held in 1940 and 1951, and saw a dramatic expansion of the electorate.

Universal suffrage and interruptions in democracy, 1952-79

Shortly after coming to power through the 1952 Revolution, the National Revolutionary Movement instituted universal suffrage, ending literacy requirements and racial restrictions which had massively reduced the Bolivian electorate up to that time. General elections were held in 1956, 1960, and 1964; and purely legislative elections were held in 1958 and 1962. Democracy was interrupted in 1964 by René Barrientos Ortuño, who proceeded to hold and win an election in 1966 and to convoke the Constituent Assembly of 1966-67 to rewrite the Constitution of Bolivia.[3] Following Barrientos' death in 1969, democracy was further interrupted by military rule until 1979, including the eight-year dictatorship of Hugo Bánzer Suarez.

Democratic transition and final dictatorship, 1979-82

In a chaotic period of transition marked by numerous coups d'état, three elections were held in 1978, 1979, 1980. Parliamentary majorities were not obtained in 1978 and 1979 and alliance building was interrupted by coups. Lydia Gueiler, an elected member of the National Congress assumed power constitutionally from November 1979 to mid-1980. The results of the 1980 elections were the basis for the post-1982 parliament and the 1982-85 government of Hernán Siles Zuazo.

Multiparty democracy, 1982-present

Elections have been held regularly in the democratic period that began in 1982. General elections were held in 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2005, and 2009.[3] A Constituent Assembly was elected in 2006. The 1985 Organic Law of Municipalities restored local elections for mayor and created a legislative body, the municipal council, in each municipality.[4] The first local elections were held in 1987, followed by further elections in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, and 2010. Similarly, departmental elections for Prefect began in 2006 and elections for Departmental Legislative Assemblies began in 2010. Following the passage of the 2009 Constitution, the National Electoral Court was replaced in late 2010 by a fourth branch of government, the Plurinational Electoral Organ, whose highest body is the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Latest elections

2016 Presidential re-election referendum

On February 21, 2016, Bolivian voters rejected[5] an amendment to the country's constitution that would have allowed President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera to run again for re-election in 2019. The amendment, if approved, would have removed Article 168 of the constitution, which allows these officeholders to put themselves forward for re-election only once. The proposed constitutional reform was approved by a combined session of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly on September 26, 2015, by a vote of 112 to 41.[6] Law 757, which convenes the February referendum, was passed 113 to 43, and was promulgated on November 5, 2015.[7] On February 24, Morales accepted the defeat of the proposed constitutional reform.[8][9]

2015 Autonomy referendum

On September 20, 2015, five western and central departments—Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, La Paz, Oruro, and Potosí—voted on whether to approve "organic charters" (constitutions of autonomous governance), as did three municipalities and two indigenous territories.[10] Voters in all five departments rejected their charters of autonomy, which were drafted by MAS-IPSP–led legislatures.

Department Yes votes % No votes % Blank Null Total ballots cast Eligible voters Turnout as % of electorate
Cochabamba 335,464 38.42% 537,706 61.58% 17,910 57,930 949,010 1,137,872 83.4%
Chuquisaca 99,819 42.57% 134,652 57.43% 5,917 18,057 267,445 324,587
La Paz 425,605 31.94% 906,759 68.06% 30,159 88,885 1,026,228
Oruro 59,119 25.98% 168,443 74.02% 5,800 14,064 297,217
Potosí 93,705 31.92% 199,823 68.08% 8,278 21,546 323,352 408,131 79.2%
Sources: "Referendo autonómico: A cómputo final ganó el No en cinco departamentos". Agencia de Noticias Fides. 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2016-03-13. 

2015 Regional election

2014 General election

The last election for national executive and legislative offices, including President and Vice President and the Plurinational Legislative Assembly was held in late 2014, with new terms beginning 2015. In September 2010, President Evo Morales suggested he was eligible to run for re-election in 2014. However, Bolivian presidents are only eligible to be re-elected to one successive term under Article 168 of the Constitution. Morales and his supporters argued that his first term, 2006–10, was incomplete. Juan del Granado, leader of the Without Fear Movement (MSM), challenged its former ally, the Movement towards Socialism to carry out a constitutional referendum if it wanted Morales to stand for re-election.[11] Morales proceeded to win the election with a large margin.

Party Presidential candidate Votes % Seats
Chamber Senate
Seats +/– Seats +/–
Movement for SocialismEvo Morales3,173,30461.3688025–1
Democrat UnitySamuel Doria Medina1,253,28824.23329
Christian Democratic PartyJorge Quiroga467,3119.04102
Movement without FearJuan del Granado140,2852.710–40
Green Party of BoliviaFernando Vargas137,2402.6500
Invalid/blank votes316,248
Registered voters/turnout5,971,15291.90
Source: TSE

2011 Judicial election

The first Bolivian judicial election is scheduled to be held on 5 December 2010. However, officials of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and of the MAS majority in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly have suggested that it will be delayed into 2011.[12] The national vote will elect magistrates to serve on the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Spanish: Tribunal Supremo de Justicia), the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (Spanish: Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional), the Agro-environmental Tribunal (Spanish: Tribunal Agroambiental), and members of the Council of the Judiciary (Spanish: Consejo de la Magistratura).[13]

2011 Special municipal election

A special election is due be held for the mayor of five cities where mayors have stepped down or been indicted. In July 2011, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal formally convoked the elections for Mayor in three cities: Sucre, Quillacollo, and Pazña for December 18, 2011.[14]

City Outgoing Mayor (Party) Notes
Sucre, Chuquisaca Jaime Barrón (PAÍS) Resigned in July 2010 under indictment for May 24, 2008 violence
Quillacollo, Cochabamba Héctor Cartagena (UNE)
Punata, Cochabamba Víctor Balderrama (Insurgente Martín Uchu) Suspended under indictment for aggravated rape of a minor on August 10, 2010 (convicted September 2011[15]); pledged to resign to allow new elections
Pazña, Oruro Víctor Centeno (MAS-IPSP) Resigned on 15 June 2010 under "psychological pressure and regional divisions"[16]
Catacora, La Paz

2010 Regional election

Departmental and municipal authorities will be elected on 4 April 2010. Among the officials to be elected are:

The political parties contesting elections in each department are as follows:

2009 General election

Candidate Party Votes Percentage Deputies Senators
  Evo Morales Ayma Movement for Socialism 2.943.209 64,22 88 26
  Manfred Reyes Villa Plan Progress for Bolivia – National Convergence 1.212.795 26,46 37 10
  Samuel Doria Medina National Unity Front 258.971 5,65 3
  René Joaquino Carlos Social Alliance 106.027 2,31 2
  Ana María Flores Social Patriotic Unity Movement 23.257 0,51
  Román Loayza People 15.627 0,34
  Alejo Véliz Peoples for Liberty and Sovereignty 12.995 0,28
  Rime Choquehuanca Social Democratic Bolivia 9.905 0,22
  Valid votes 4.582.786 94,31
  Blank votes 156.290 3,22
  Null votes 120,364 2,48
  Total votes 4.859.440 100 130 36
Source: Comisión Nacional Electoral

2009 Constitutional referendum

In elections held on 25 January 2009, Bolivian voters approved a new Constitution.

Bolivian constitutional referendum, 2009[19][20]
Yes or no Votes Percentage
Yes 2,064,360 61.43%
No 1,296,097 38.57%
Valid votes 3,360,457 95.70%
Invalid or blank votes 151,100 4.30%
Total 3,511,557 100.00%
Voter turnout 90.26%
Cap on maximum landholdings Votes Percentage
5,000 hectares 1,956,567 80.65%
10,000 hectares 469,361 19.35%
Valid votes 2,425,928 69.16%
Invalid or blank votes 1,081,678 30.84%
Total 3,507,606 100.00%
Voter turnout 90.16%

2008 Revocation referendum

 Summary of the 10 August 2008 Bolivian recall referendum results
Position Party Candidate Votes against recall % against recall % threshold Result
Vice President
Movement Toward Socialism Juan Evo Morales Ayma
Álvaro García Linera
2,103,732 67.41% 53.7% Survived
Prefect of Beni Department PODEMOS Ernesto Suárez 64,866 64.25% 44.64% Survived
Prefect of Chuquisaca Department Allianza Comité Interinstitucional Savina Cuéllar Not voting
Prefect of Cochabamba Department Nueva Fuerza Republicana Manfred Reyes Villa 195,290 35.19% 47.64% Recalled
Prefect of La Paz Department José Luis Paredes 362,214 35.48% 37.99% Recalled
Prefect of Oruro Department Alberto Luis Aguilar 84,364 50.86% 40.95% Survived
Prefect of Pando Department PODEMOS Leopoldo Fernández 14,841 56.21% 48.03% Survived
Prefect of Potosí Department Mario Virreira 171,629 79.08% 40.69% Survived
Prefect of Santa Cruz Department Autonomy for Bolivia Ruben Costas 451,191 66.43% 47.87% Survived
Prefect of Tarija Department Civic Committee Mario Cossío 78,170 58.06% 45.65% Survived
Source: National Election Court of Bolivia

Past elections

2005 Presidential election

 Summary of the 18 December 2005 Bolivian presidential election results
Candidates Nominating parties Votes %
Juan Evo Morales Ayma
Álvaro García Linera
Movement Toward Socialism 1,544,374 53.7
Jorge Fernando "Tuto" Quiroga Ramírez
María Renée de los Ángeles Duchén Cuéllar
Democratic and Social Power 821,745 28.6
Samuel Jorge Doria Medina Auza
Carlos Fernando Dabdoub Arrien
National Unity Front 224,090 7.8
Michiaki Nagatani Morishita
Guillermo Luis Bedregal Gutiérrez
Revolutionary Nationalist Movement 185,859 6.5
Felipe Quispe Huanca
Camila Choqueticlla
Indigenous Pachakuti Movement 61,948 2.2
Gildo Angulo Cabrera
Gonzalo José Silvestre Quiroga Soria
New Republican Force 19,667 0.7
Eliceo Rodríguez Pari
Rodolfo Antonio Flores Morelli
Agrarian Patriotic Front of Bolivia 8,737 0.3
Néstor García Rojas
Teodomiro Rengel Huanca
Social Union of the Workers of Bolivia 7,381 0.3
Total (turnout: 84.5 %) 2,873,801 100.0
Null votes 104,570 3.4
Blank votes 124,027 3.0
Total votes 3,102,417 100.0
Registered voters 3,671,152
Source: CNE

2005 Parliamentary election

 Summary of the 18 December 2005 National Congress of Bolivia election results
Parties Votes % Deputies Senators
Movement Toward Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo) 1,544,374 53.7 72 12
Social and Democratic Power (Poder Democrático y Social, PODEMOS) 821,745 28.6 43 13
National Unity Front (Frente de Unidad Nacional) 224,090 7.8 8 1
Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario) 185,859 6.5 7 1
Indigenous Pachakuti Movement (Movimiento Indígena Pachakuti) 61,948 2.2 - -
New Republican Force (Nueva Fuerza Republicana) 19,667 0.7 - -
Agrarian Patriotic Front of Bolivia (Frente Patriótico Agropecuario de Bolivia) 8,737 0.3 - -
Social Union of the Workers of Bolivia (Unión Social de los Trabajadores de Bolivia) 7,381 0.3 - -
Total (turnout: 84.534 %) 2,873,801 100.0 130 27
Null votes 104,570 3.4
Blank votes 124,027 3.0
Total votes 3,102,417 100.0
Registered voters 3,671,152
Source: CNE and Rulers

See also



    1. 1 2 3 "Bolivia: Ley del Régimen Electoral, 30 de junio de 2010". Lexivox. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
    2. Barragán R., Rossana (2005). "Ciudadanía y elecciones, convenciones y debates". Regiones y poder constituyente en Bolivia: Una historia de pactos y disputas. Cuaderno de futuro. PNUD. pp. 287–294.
    3. 1 2 Cordero Carraffa, Carlos Hugo (February 2007). Historia Electoral de Bolivia: 1952-2007 (PDF). Cuadernos de trabajo. Corte Nacional Electoral. p. 27.
    4. Córdova, Eduardo (2009). "Cochabamba es el centro es la ausencia: Impulsos estatales y sociales de la descentralización en Cochabamba (1994–2008)". Decursos: Revista de Ciencias Sociales. XI (20): 61–95 [68].
    5. "Referendo constitucional 2016: Resultados preliminares". Órgano electoral plurinacional. Tribunal Supremo Electoral. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
    6. "La ALP sancionó la Ley de Reforma parcial de la CPE". Vicepresidencia del Estado. 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
    7. Bolivia passes law to allow Morales to run for fourth term Reuters, 25 September 2015
    8. Casey, Nicholas (24 Feb 2016). "Bolivian President Concedes Defeat in Term-Limit Referendum". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
    9. "Bolivia's Morales admits loss in referendum on term limits". BBC News. BBC. 24 Feb 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
    10. "Referendo para Aprobación de Estatutos Autonómicos y Cartas Orgánicas 2015". Tribunal Supremo Electoral.
    11. "Del Granado reta a Evo a ir a referéndum". Los Tiempos. Cochabamba. 2010-09-23. pp. A1, A2. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
    12. "Ley aplaza elección de autoridades judiciales," La Razón, 12 August 2010.
    13. "Elecciones judiciales serán el 5 diciembre," Los Tiempos, 5 February 2010.
    14. "Convocan a comicios electorales en 3 municipios". Página Siete. 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
    15. "Condenan con 25 años de prisión al Alcalde suspendido de Punata". La Razón. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
    16. "En Quillacollo y Pazña habrán nuevas elecciones para alcalde," Bolivianpress.com, 16 June 2011.
    17. Corte Nacional Electoral, Elecciones departamentales y municipales 2010.
    18. Corte Nacional Electoral, ¿Qué eligiremos el 4 de abril?.
    19. "Referéndum Nacional Constituyente 2009". National Electoral Court of Bolivia. 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
    20. "Referéndum Nacional Constituyente 2009". National Electoral Court of Bolivia. 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2009-01-28.

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