President Evo Morales has claimed victory in Bolivia’s presidential election, paving the way for a second term in office. Official results are not out till later but exit polls suggest he has won more than sixty percent of the vote, way ahead of his closest challenger. The man nicknamed the peasant president is hugely popular with Bolivia’s Indian majority.
Morales spoke to his supporters celebrating in the streets below his balcony: “Bolivia shows once again its vocation for democracy, a democratic cultural revolution at the service of the Bolivian people.” It seems that voters strongly backed the Morales agenda of social spending and state control of industry. The apparent landslide victory means he may have a clear ride in Congress. The loser, the right wing former governor Manfred Reyes Villa, put on a brave face: “We’re an opposition that is always constructive, that defends the national interests.” Victory should give Morales the chance to push through widespread social reforms he says are aimed at helping the poor. A third of Bolivians live on less than two dollars a day.