- Title: BOLIVIA-ELECTION-VOTE COUNTING Vote counting underway in Bolivian elections
- Date: 12th October 2014
- Summary: EL ALTO, BOLIVIA (OCTOBER 12, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PLAZA WHERE PEOPLE VOTE VARIOUS OF BOLIVIANS LINING UP TO VOTE ALONG WITH PAMPHLETS OF CANDIDATES (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) BOLIVIAN CITIZEN GUMERCINDO MACHACA, SAYING: "With this vote, we know who is going to win. So it's not very noteworthy. But it's still good for future generations have the experience of exercising their vote. And I hope that in the future we have a respected Electoral Tribunal." VARIOUS OF CITIZENS VOTING BOLIVIAN CITIZEN MERCEDES WAYTA VOTING (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) BOLIVIAN VOTER MERCEDES WAYTA, SAYING "Yes, the voting process has been smooth. There were no problems. Yes, thank you" LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (OCTOBER 12, 2014) (REUTERS) STREET IN FRONT OF SCHOOL WHERE VOTING TOOK PLACE PEOPLE ENTERING ELECTORAL BOOTH PEOPLE WAITING TO VOTE VARIOUS OF VOTING ACHOCALLA,BOLIVIA (OCTOBER 12, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RURAL DISTRICT OF ACHOCALLA, LOCATED 16 KM FROM LA PAZ GENERAL OF ANDEAN SNACK STAND (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) BOLIVIAN VOTER AND SNACK STAND VENDOR FLORINDA MAMANI, SAYING: "The change has been throughout the whole country. It wasn't the same before. There was a lot of discrimination, humiliation and fear." ENTRANCE TO VOTING STATION VARIOUS OF PEOPLE VOTING. VARIOUS OF DELEGATION FROM EVO MORALES'S MOVEMENT TOWARDS SOCIALISM (MAS) ATTENDING VOTE LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (OCTOBER 12, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF VOTES BEING COUNTED
- Embargoed: 27th October 2014 12:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVABG9XIPO6YCZM7HYP48JKDJ79X
- Story Text: Vote counting was underway in Bolivia on Sunday (October 12) for an election that is almost guaranteed to hand a third consecutive term to President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer whose brand of "indigenous socialism" has expanded the role of the state in a booming economy.
Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. local time (1200 GMT) and closes at 4 p.m local time (2000 GMT).
Incumbent Morales' folksy appeal and prudent spending of funds from a natural gas bonanza to slash poverty have won the 54-year-old broad support in a country long dogged by political instability and opinion polls show him thrashing rivals to win outright in the first round.
And in El Alto, located in the Bolivian western department of La Paz that is friendly territory for the incumbent, voters were speaking of the president's victory as a given.
"With this vote, we know who is going to win. So it's not very noteworthy. But it's still good for future generations have the experience of exercising their vote. And I hope that in the future we have a respected Electoral Tribunal," said Bolivian voter, Gumercindo Machaca.
Morales has delivered economic growth averaging above 5 percent since he became the nation's first ethnic Aymara leader, nationalizing key industries including oil and gas and channelling the windfall into social welfare programs, roads and schools.
Bolivia's constitution, amended in 2009, allows presidents two straight terms in office. Morales can run after the Supreme Court last year ruled his first period in office from 2006-2009 should not count, a decision that was harshly criticised by the opposition.
But on hand to vote in El Alto, Mercedes Wayta had only high marks for the day.
"Yes, the voting process has been smooth. There were no problems. Yes, thank you," she said.
If he wins, Morales, who rails against capitalism but has won plaudits from Wall Street for robust growth and running a fiscal surplus, is set to become Bolivia's longest serving president.
An Ipsos poll last week showed him winning the support of 59 percent of voters.
His support remains strong in rural towns like Achocalla, located 16 km (10 miles) outside the capital of La Paz.
"The change has been throughout the whole country. It wasn't the same before. There was a lot of discrimination, humiliation and fear," said voter and snack stand vendor, Florinda Mamani.
His main rivals are Samuel Doria Medina, a cement tycoon easily beaten by Morales in the last two elections, and Jorque Quiroga who served as president briefly between 2001-2002.
Doria Medina has promised to clean up a judiciary he says is bent, while Quiroga has pledged to tackle organized crime in the world's third largest producer of cocaine.
But they trail Morales by more than 40 points going into the vote.
Voting is mandatory for the Andean nation's roughly six million voters, who will also elect lawmakers to a Congress that is dominated by Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party.
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