- Title: A look at Morales' main rivals as Bolivia election draws near
- Date: 17th October 2019
- Summary: ORTIZ WITH SUPPORTERS
- Embargoed: 31st October 2019 20:32
- Keywords: Bolivia elections candidates Mesa Morales Ortiz
- Location: LA PAZ & SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ & SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA008B1HLB2F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Bolivian opposition candidates are closing in on President Evo Morales in polls ahead of a general election this weekend, with Latin America's longest continuous standing leader possibly being edged out in a second round run-off.
However, the margin over the second place candidate, Carlos Mesa a business-friendly former president, would be sufficiently narrow to warrant a second round head-to-head. Mesa, who leads the Citizen Community alliance, is predicted to get around 27% of the first-round vote.
Presidential candidates in Bolivia need to get above 40% of the vote in the first round and have a 10-point lead over the second place rival in order to avoid a run-off. The winner will assume office in January for a five-year period.
The poll showed both candidates have consolidated support since September, but Mesa has closed the gap on Morales, whose bid for a fourth consecutive term in defiance of term limits has angered some voters in the country.
The poll indicated that in a second round, Mesa - who had a short-lived stint previously as president - could even win by 35.8% of the vote to 35.5% for Morales, who has overseen a period of steady growth in the country.
In 2005, Mesa resigned after 17 months in office as protests spread through the country and threatened the important oil and gas sector.
At the time, he said authorities would not be able to control a nationwide protest to force changes in rules governing Bolivia's vast natural gas resources.
That protest was organised by Morales' Movement to Socialism or MAS.
Third in the polls is senator Oscar Ortiz, who lacks a party, but who is presenting himself with the support of traditional politicians from the east of the country under the acronym "Bolivia Says No."
He is trying to capitalise his campaign on the rejection of Morales's indefinite stay in power.
(Production: Santiago Limachi, Sergio Limachi, Monica Machicao, Geraldine Downer)
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