Friday, June 30, 2006

New Polls are in: ¿Bye Bye Centralismo?

(File under: Politics) CEDLA, the well know Latin American labor and agrarian research institute, has recently published a somewhat comprehensive poll of voting intentions in the urban and rural areas of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz and Tarija. The technical details and final results are available at the institute’s website, from which I extract the following:

  • The “Yes to Autonomy” vote wins in all of the polled departments – even in urban and rural (!) La Paz. Days away from the referendum Autonomia is no longer a cruceño proposal, though the results of the poll do expose a major Bolivian mindset issue: 10.60 percent would vote for autonomy for some departments, 46.30 percent would favor autonomy for all departments but 42.50 percent would prefer the system to remain unchanged rather than have only some departments enjoy autonomy. (“O hay para todos o no hay para nadie” it seems, which could be worrisome).
  • The “Yes” vote triumphs even in rural areas, which tended to vote for MAS an Evo Morales in the last election. It’s worth noting that despite being the head of state –and supposedly neutral to the process- Evo has campaigned alongside MAS candidates, attacked the autonomy movement and its leaders and publicly announced he’ll vote “NO” encouraging his supporters to do the same. And despite all of these efforts, initial polling shows his supporters may vote the other way. In Santa Cruz and possibly Beni and Pando, autonomy will win by a landslide, Cochabamba urban and rural polling also show above 50 percent support for autonomy.

Exhibit 1: Voting intentions, key cities (Source: CEDLA):

  • It is surprising to see that reasonable expectations of what autonomy will mean for Bolivia do exist.[1] When asked to define autonomy; the majority answered “A new form to distribute the country’s resources” (33.4 percent) and “a new territorial organization” (22.70 percent) no magical panacea in anybody’s mind.
  • Not all is good though, with days left to the referendum the majority still believes La Paz will be somewhat damaged by the autonomic process.

I do not see it that way, just as any other department, La Paz, its citizens, businesses and other social actors can thrive under an autonomous form of government. Centralism, bureaucracy, political corruption and unjustified dominance on the other hand, has no place in the future we want to build. Save “executive intervention” in CNE’s procedures…autonomy will win.

[1] As opposed to what I call unreasonable expectations by the part of Evo’s voters on the last election –on what he would mean for Bolivia.

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