Morales Wins Third Consecutive Term
President Evo Morales won a third consecutive term on Oct. 12, 2014, taking 61% of the vote. His closest opponent in the election was the Democratic Unity Party's Samuel Doria Medina who received 24.5%. During his victory speech, Morales said, "This victory is the victory of the anti-colonialists and the anti-imperialists."
Morales dedicated his third term re-election to Hugo Chávez. Critics expressed fear that Morales would follow Chávez's lead and attempt to stay in office past 2020. The Constitution currently bars him from seeking a fourth term, but last year Bolivia's Constitutional Court ruled that Morales could run for a third term in the 2014 elections. Many suspect his party would seek another change to the Constitution, allowing him to run again like Chávez did in Venezuela.
Indeed, a referendum was set for Feb. 21, 2016, for voters to decide if Bolivia's Constitution should be changed to allow Morales to seek another term in 2020.
The country's first indigenous president, Morales is seen as a successful leader who has reduced poverty and given a voice to Bolivia's indigenous people.
However, days before the Feb. 2016 referendum, news broke that Morales had fathered a child out of wedlock with a young woman in 2007, a year before he became president.
The most damaging part of the scandal was evidence that the young woman, Gabriela Zapata, had benefited financially due to her relationship with Morales. For example,
the company where she works as a top executive has received government contracts worth over $500 million.
A few days after the report, Morales admitted to the affair and having fathered the child who died shortly after birth. As for relations to Zapata, Morales said, "After 2007, I cut all ties." However, a Bolivian news agency published a 2015 photo of Morales and Zapata embracing at a carnival. The scandal torpedoed Morales's hopes for run for a fourth term as voters narrowly rejected the referendum.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes:
National Institute of Statistics (INE) (In Spanish Only)