Poll Update: Bolivia's Special Presidential Elections

By Holly K. Sonneland

If ex-President Carlos Mesa can stay within 10 points of Luis Arce, previously Evo Morales’ economy minister, he’ll force Bolivia’s first-ever runoff.

Bolivians are preparing to vote on October 18 in special general elections. It will be almost a year since the debacle that was the October 20, 2019 elections, which ended in vote-rigging allegations, violent demonstrations, the exit of longstanding President Evo Morales of the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, and the ascension of opposition Senator Jeanine Añez, who’s now served as interim president for almost a year. 

After initially fielding a candidacy to fill the head-of-state role permanently, Añez dropped out of the presidential race on September 17, saying she was doing so because she didn’t want to fracture the anti-MAS vote and thereby allow the MAS presidential candidate, Luis Arce, a win.

But she’s yet to endorse a candidate, and her supporters appear to be splitting between centrist former President Carlos Mesa or toward right-wing Catholic civic leader Luis Fernando Camacho. Añez says she intends to support the candidate who can beat Arce, arguably Mesa, but she’s closer to Camacho ideologically. To wit, Añez was polling at 13.3 percent support in CELAG’s July poll, and in the firm’s first post-Añez poll, Mesa saw his support go up by 7.2 points (26.8 to 34.0 percent), and Camacho by 6.1 points (9.1 to 15.2 percent). That said, on October 2, Añez’s former running mate endorsed Mesa, as he did during the 2019 election.

AS/COA Online digs into the numbers of CELAG’s October poll.