Salvador Romero, the head of the Bolivian electoral authority, told a press conference on Friday evening that Bolivia could celebrate “the end of the count” with all the ballots counted, adding that there had been a high voter turnout despite the COVID-19 pandemic. .
“With an 88% turnout, Bolivians set the second highest record in our history and one of the highest in Latin America in the 21st century,” he told reporters.
“It confirms how much people want to live in peace and with institutions that fulfill their mission, and reject disturbing predictions of confrontation and violence.”
The finalist was former centrist president Carlos Mesa with just under 29% of the vote.
Conservative Luis Fernando Camacho, one of the leaders of the protest movement that helped oust Morales from the country a year ago, won just 14% of the vote.
“The election is over,” Mesa wrote on Twitter. He added his congratulations to Arce on the victory, which had been clear since the start of the week, but not officially confirmed.
“We will remain vigilant in the democratic opposition fulfilling the mandate of the people,” Mesa added.
MAS majorities in Congress
The MAS also won majorities in both houses of Congress, although the party failed to achieve the two-thirds majorities it would need to change the constitution without the consent of the opposition parties.
Arce served as Minister of the Economy for a dozen years under Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, as the country’s mineral exports exploded and poverty was sharply reduced.
Since winning the election, Arce has played down speculation about a major role in his administration for Morales, whose popularity was dented in his later years as president by a refusal to accept term limits and a sense of d increasing authoritarianism.
Last year’s presidential election was annulled after disputed allegations of fraud sparked numerous protests.
The political upheaval that preceded and followed Morales’ resignation – at the behest of the military – has left at least 36 dead.
The new election was staged by a reshuffled electoral tribunal under a deeply conservative interim government that had tried to overturn many of Morales’ economic, cultural and foreign policies. It has suffered economic setbacks in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morales, who faces a slew of charges filed by the interim administration, has not been allowed to run for office. He lives in self-exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina.