Bolivia’s conservative interim President Jeannine Anez is preparing proposals for rival centrist Carlos Mesa to defeat their common enemy — socialist Luis Arce — in September’s election, a minister said Friday, prompting speculation of a coalition.
“There will be big surprises in the next few days because our president will make some very good proposals to stop the leftists” Interior Minister Arturo Murillo told the El Deber newspaper.
Arce, a member of former president Evo Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, led the most recent opinion polls with 33.3 percent, well ahead of former president Mesa at 18.3 and Anez at 16.9. The MAS party was in power from 2006-19 under Morales and currently has a majority in both houses of parliament.
Without giving further details, Murillo said “it will not be difficult” to beat MAS at the elections with the right strategy.
To win outright in the September 6 general election, the leading presidential candidate must get at least 40 percent with a 10-point lead over the nearest challenger, otherwise there will be a second round run-off in October.
“We will see how open Mr. Mesa is to the proposals,” said Murillo, leading analysts to speculate whether Anez is proposing a coalition to create a united front against MAS.
However, Anez’s vice-presidential candidate, Samuel Doria Medina, wrote on Twitter that no such negotiation had been discussed and that it was merely Murillo’s “personal proposal.” He added that Anez and Mesa have “fundamental political differences” and that an alliance was not in the works as far as he knew.
Doria Medina, who lost two presidential elections to Morales, said, “There needs to be ample preparation for a dialogue to defeat MAS, otherwise it’s a waste of time.” She added that it will be extremely difficult to “legally” defeat Arce.
Mesa’s campaign chief, Ricardo Paz, said the former president was “open to talk with all democratic political forces and build convergence.” However, he said “the time for pre-election agreements has already passed.”
Mesa stood against Morales in the controversial election last October when the then-leader won a disputed fourth term. Despite early suggestions to the contrary, most analysts have concluded that Morales’ victory was legitimate. Morales left the country three weeks after the election, claiming he had been ousted in a rightwing coup.
Mesa then supported Anez’s assumption of the interim presidency as she was the highest ranking public official at the time.
Without referencing either directly, Morales said on Twitter: “The protagonists of the coup d’etat and those responsible for the health and economic crisis massacres in Bolivia are joining interests to reissue the mega-coalition of neoliberalism.”
Morales, who lives in exile in Argentina, is barred from standing in the election in any capacity.