According to numerous press and wire service reports, Evo Morales of the "Movement Toward Socialism" (MAS) is poised to become the next President of Bolivia. This presumption is based not upon official results, but rather exit polls and "quick count" television news projections. American with even just relatively short memories will have a good idea of just how reliable – or not – such sources are. Moreover, if Morales receives anything less than 50% of the real vote, it is by law the Bolivian parliament that will select the President.
Nonetheless, the evidence of a Morales victory is apparently sufficient to have convinced his chief rival, Jorge Quiroga, to throw in the towel. And this is hardly surprising, since even if Quiroga had won an outright majority or been selected by Parliament, the Morales supporters in El Alto, overlooking the capital La Paz, would undoubtedly have renewed the street blockades that shut down the country’s principal artery and drove two successive Bolivian Presidents from office in the last three years. As MAS senator Román Loayza put it, "one way or another" [por las buenas o por las malas], i.e. whether by legal or illegal means, Evo Morales was going to take power. In the end, he will have come to power by quasi-legal means – which have always been the sort of means preferred by the peculiar type of "socialist" movements (sometimes known as "national socialist" movements) that Evo Morales and his MAS represent.
In case anyone imagines that this outcome is a triumph for democracy, I have reconstituted the following two posts from the old Trans-Int here on the new site:
Prima facie, the seizure of power by Evo Morales in Bolivia is, of course, "out of area" for Trans-Int. But if one considers the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the EU’s pet project in "international justice" – in paving the way for Morales’s success or the marked affinities of his "indigenist" ideology with the most illiberal ideological currents of the contemporary European "left", it turns out on closer inspection to be not so far afield after all. And if you read my "Getting to Know Evo" post, you will discover that Evo Morales does not only, as has been widely reported, show a certain aversion for "gringos" – but also for Jews.
- December 19th, 2005