Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 16, 27 October 2019

Bolivian unrest
Nidhi Dalal

In the news

Protests and marches are being held across Bolivia, suspecting fraud in the recently held elections. Due to the allegations of rigging, the counting process was halted for 24 hours. While the incumbent President Evo Morales has rejected all such allegations, the second-placed candidate Carlos Mesa has demanded a second round of voting. Mesa’s demands have found support by the US, Argentina, Columbia, and Brazil. Many Bolivians have taken to the streets, as they reject the election results. They claim to have lost trust in the electoral process and have clashed with the police at several places. Police have used tear gas to control the unrest. Protestors have burned several buildings including electoral offices and there have been reports of civilian deaths over the week. 


Issues at large

Polling for the election of the President had closed on Sunday and the results of quick count predicted a second-round vote. The official website had stopped operating for almost 24 hours and when it resumed there was a lead of ten-point percentage in the votes for Evo Morales. Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU had called for re-count to restore faith of the people in the legitimacy of the electoral process. The same requests have been rejected by Morales and he has also ignored any criticisms of election-rigging. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) had been called upon to clarify and has reiterated Morales’s claims. Morales has been at the helm of politics as President since 2006 and has been criticized for trying to alter the presidential term limits. Recent allegations of him rigging elections have come in light of his attempts to retain power as President.


In perspective

People’s trust in the democratic electoral process has dwindled after the discrepancies in the process. Not only has the process of election been questioned, but also the credibility of the institutions are under Threat. Opposition and second-placed candidate Mesa has called for protesting until a second round of voting is held. The unrest will continue to affect the country until people's trust in the institutions and the government are restored.

Nidhi Dalal is a Research Intern at the International Strategic and Security Studies Program, National Institute of Advanced Studies. She can be reached at

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