- Title: Bolivia's Morales confident of election win despite count suggesting a run-off
- Date: 21st October 2019
- Summary: NEWSPAPER HEADLINES
- Embargoed: 4th November 2019 16:07
- Keywords: Bolivia election voting reaction
- Location: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA002B21KCAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Bolivian President Evo Morales shrugged off an early vote count showing Sunday's election heading for a second round run-off, saying he was confident that uncounted rural votes would help propel him to an outright victory and congressional majority.
Morales was seen leading the election with 45% of votes against 38% for chief rival Carlos Mesa, according to a preliminary account of nearly 84% of ballots by Bolivia's electoral board, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).
However, that was short of the minimum 50% majority or 10-point lead over his closest rival Morales needed to avoid a Dec. 15 second round run-off to decide who will govern Bolivia, a landlocked country of 11 million people, from 2020 to 2025.
Many people, including Mesa, considered the run-off a certainty but Morales, who has governed Bolivia since 2006, confounded them by heralding his victory at a news conference and saying rural votes should help see him home.
An abrupt halt to vote counting by the TSE also sparked concern. One official observer, the Organization of American States, called on it to explain why transmission of the data had stopped.
The TSE, which was not expected to announce more results until Monday morning, declined to comment.
A second-round vote would be risky for Morales, who is looking to extend his administration to 19 years. He won his last two elections with more than 60% of the vote in the first round.
Quick non-binding ballot counts by two other pollsters - the Jubileo Foundation and officially sanctioned ViaCiencia - showed a tight race, with about 44% for Morales and 39% for Mesa.
Votes from rural areas that tend to favour Morales were still coming in but many people said they would not be enough for Morales to avoid a runoff.
Morales is running in defiance of term limits and despite a 2016 referendum in which Bolivians voted against allowing him to seek a fourth consecutive term. A local court ruling allowed him to run anyway.
He has promised to retire after the next five-year term, as he did in the 2014 election.
(Production: Monica Machicao, Santiago Limachi)
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