Results from President Evo Morales’ proposed referendum indicate that the people of Bolivia do not want to amend the country’s constitution. Under Bolivia’s current constitution, presidents and vice presidents are limited to two consecutive five-year terms.
It had been President Morales’ goal to run for a fourth term, which would enable him to stay in power until 2025. As it currently stands, Morales will serve as president until the conclusion of his third term, ending in 2020. Before Morales was in power the constitution only allowed a president to remain in power for two consecutive terms, 4 years each. When Morales came into power he changed the constitution so that presidential terms were 5 years instead. Because he changed the constitution during his first term he argued that his first term didn’t apply. Many people saw this as unconstitutional and an excuse to run for one more term and remain in power
President Morales is Bolivia’s first indigenous president and has brought stability to a country that has typically been politically volatile. When he was first elected in 2005, Morales nationalized oil and gas industries. During his subsequent terms, he continued to pursue radical left-wing policies. Under his leadership, the Bolivian economy has grown by an average of five percent per year. Despite all of Morales’ accomplishments, the people rejected his referendum because they felt that another change to the constitution would be stepping too far. Many of Morales opponents celebrated the final decision of the referendum as a victory for democracy.
Morales faces various right-wing opposition groups who argue that Morales has become almost an authoritarian figure, dominating the government under the pretext that he was bringing favorable policies to indigenous communities, which allowed him to gain popularity among his people.
Even though Morales has lost his opportunity to run for a fourth term, he still has plenty of time to make political changes while he is in office for the next four years. It is likely that Morales will continue to participate in government even after he leaves office. As the head of US-based Inter-American Dialogue states, “He is one of the most charismatic and powerful leaders in Bolivian history. It is unlikely he is going to just retire from politics.”