Luis Arce, presidential candidate of Bolivia’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party has a nearly two-to-one lead in a poll for the country’s May 3 national election. Picked by former president Evo Morales to head the MAS ticket, Arce leads former president Carlos Mesa and current interim president Jeanine Áñez 31.6 percent to 17.1 and 16.5%.
The May election was called by interim president Áñez following the military coup that ousted Morales in December amidst allegations of fraud in an election he claimed to have won.
Despite his big lead, political analyst Jorge Iglesias says it will be difficult for Arce to win outright in the May 3 primary. Under Bolivian law, a candidate must have 40 percent of the vote and a 10 percent lead over the second-place candidate to avoid a runoff. “This was the problem Morales faced in December,” Iglesias says. “Depending on your political leaning, he barely reached the 40 / 10 threshhold or he fell just short. Arce will have a more difficult time reaching those numbers.”
Iglesias says it will also be hard for the conservatives, led by Áñez, to win in a runoff. “The right wing does not like Mesa, who they claim has shifted to the left for the purpose of attracting indigenous votes and it is unclear if they would support him if he reaches the second round. On the other hand, many Mesa supporter might vote for Arce over Áñez in a runoff. It’s a complicated situation and the outcome is hard to predict.”