Cochabamba, Bolivia. October 30, 2014. In Bolivia presidential and congress election date is nigh. Elections are set to happen on October 12th this year. Previous polls indicate a winning Evo Morales, repeating presidential candidate and current president, of the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo or Movement Towards Socialism, in English) party, leading with a 56%. Still, democracy received some significant blows in the country.
In Bolivia, when one is above 18 years of age, it is compulsory to register as a voter, and to vote on the set election date. Any democratic system rests on a base of regular, free and fair elections. This is also supported by the Constitution of Bolivia, which in its 26th article states that the election is to be equal, universal, secret, free and compulsory. One of the basic constitutional principles of any democratic elections is the freedom to choose and vote for any of the registered candidates. But now, part of the population and the local media started claiming that the election event to be held in October was being tainted by some events which coerced voters and favored a particular party.
Last month different organized sectors of the population, with open and public affinity to the MAS party, have menaced their members of punishment and controls during and after the election, to prevent any votes made for candidates different of the aforementioned party by their affiliates. They also set out an resembling plan to prevent their members from “cross voting”, which means voting for Evo Morales for president, but choosing a congress candidate of a different party. These organizations have a significant number of members. Only the Trade Union Confederation of Campesino (peasant farmers) Workers of Bolivia (“CSUTCB”), according to their own data and declaration, agglomerates around 4.1 million members. Considering the total population of Bolivia to be around 10.5 million, this represents more almost 40% of the total population. The position of the CSUTCB originally started as being a local policy of Potosí, an impoverished department and city of Bolivia, where the MAS deputy Luis Gallego threatened to whip any member which did not vote for Morales on the coming election date. This former local policy is starting to commence on a national level, and had even been supported by the current vice-president, and also repeating candidate for vice-president for the MAS party, Álvaro Garcia Linera. This was declared by himself during a recent declaration for the press where he justified the policy adopted by the CSUTCB for being “only moral, and not coercive”. Whether the menace of being whipped in punishment for not voting for the MAS party is coercive or not, shall be left open for general opinion.
What is true is that any elections held in a democratic country should be made by an informed electorate, which are able to participate in the voting event without obstruction, with decision making based on their own interests, ideology and philosophy, and freedom to choose between candidates to vote for, which also is a basic Citizen Right in most democratic countries in the World, and which should also prevail as a basic democratic principle over any particular party interests. An atmosphere to guarantee peaceful and free elections should be guaranteed by any government in power while these are held.