Bolivia’s Evo Morales set to enter the Pantheon of Presidents for life

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has taken steps to ensure its candidacy for the fourth term in the country’s leadership role. This candidacy nonetheless largely ignores the result of the February 2016 referendum. The referendum won by a slim 51.3% majority envisaged non-endorsement of President Morales’ request to lift present limits on the number of presidential terms allowed per candidate.

Bolivia’s Constitutional Court Decision

In November 2017, Bolivia’s Constitutional Court issued a decision on the matter. The Court argued that President Morales is eligible to run for a fourth consecutive time in the forthcoming presidential elections. First, the Court argued that the outcome of the referendum was a result of defamation against President Morales by opposition parties. As a result of these charges, the Court invalidated the referendum, effectively writing off re-election limits from the Constitution. Second, the Court argued that President Morales ‘Movement for Socialism’ party has already approved his indisputable candidacy for a fourth presidential term. The party’s decision was based on a unanimous vote. Third, the Court argued that the upcoming Presidential election would be the third and not the fourth attended by President Morales. According to the Court, President Morales first term is invalidated given that his leadership abruptly ended before completing the full five-year term envisaged by the Bolivian Constitution.

Evo Morales Presidential Career

Bolivia’s Evo Morales rose to the position of President in 2005. A second re-election took place in 2009. President Morales made constitutional amendments in 2009 converting the Republic of Bolivia into the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Under plurinationality, Bolivia officially recognised the presence of different nationalities co-existing within a unitary state. Bolivia’s plurinationality resulted in the official recognition of thirty-six indigenous languages for the state.

The 2009 constitutional amendments also delimit each President to run only for two terms. However, as a result of these amendments, President Morales found a window of opportunity to write off his 2005-2009 presidential tenure from the equation. This constitutional change facilitated the President’s extension for a third term starting 2014. The third term expires on 22 January 2020. Provided that President Morales manages to secure a fourth term, he would enter the pantheon of the Presidents for life in the world, staying in office for 19 consecutive years.

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