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  • Bolivian President Evo Morales casts his ballot in Villa 14 de Septiembre in the Chapare region, Cochabamba on October 12. (photo: Reuters)

    Bolivian President Evo Morales casts his ballot in Villa 14 de Septiembre in the Chapare region, Cochabamba on October 12. (photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

According to exit polls, Evo Morales has 60% of votes, ahead of the Samuel Doria with 25.3%.

Exit polls show that President Evo Morales cruising towards re-election, gaining close to 60 percent of the vote according to Ipsos Reid exit polls.

The Bolivian Information Agency (ABI) put the imcumbent ahead with 60.5 percent of the votes..

In Cochabamba, Morales' MAS party has 65 percent of votes, according to the exit polls, 66.7 percent in La Paz and 48 percent in Santa Cruz.

The polls conducted by ATB show that Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) won 59.5 percent of the vote, with Samuel Doria Medina of the National Unity Front (UN) party coming in second place with a very meager 25.3  percent and Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga (PDC) gaining 9.6 percent. 

In the latest poll before the election Morales was 41 points ahead of his closest challenger.

"I voted for Morales," Flavia Nunez, a 50 year old office clerk, told Reuters. "These other right wing candidates would take us back in time. I don't want that."

Immediately after Morales was first elected in 2005 he pivoted the country away from neoliberal policies that had made it the poorest country in South America. Morales, a vocal critic of capitalism and U.S. imperialism, nationalized oil, gas and other strategic industries and increased social spending and investments in infrastructure projects.

As a result, Bolivia has had the largest rate of poverty reduction in the region. According to a U.N. report released in September, Bolivia has seen a 32 percent reduction in poverty between 2000 and 2012. And since Morales took office in 2005 the country has seen extreme poverty drop from 38.2 percent to 21.6 percent.

According to Jeffrey R. Webber, a Latin American specialist who teaches at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London, the country's right-wing opposition is divided, weak, and offers nothing new in forms of alternative policies.

“Both Doria Medina and Quiroga are tainted by their past roles as leading ministers in the orthodox neoliberal period of the 1990s. Orthodox neoliberalism, or the Washington Consensus, has been massively discredited in the Bolivian context in the twenty-first century,” said Webber.

Kathryn Ledebur, Director of the Andean Information Network (AIN), added, "The continued inability of the rightwing opposition to regroup or significantly cut into Morales’s support base after nine years is a fascinating phenomena. It suggests that their past political power came from wealth, class privilege and a strategic alliance with the U.S. instead of  strong governance skills or pragmatic policy development and implementation."

Despite Morales' anti-capitalist rhetoric and policies, he has earned praise from unlikely places, namely Wall Street, the World Bank and IMF, for his macroeconomic policies which have led to sustained economic growth and a fiscal surplus. Bolivia has seen economic growth exceed 5 percent annually since Morales took office, recording 7 percent last year. Bolivia also recorded the largest level of direct foreign investment in all of South America in 2013, despite the country's nationalizations — often seen as an anathema for transnational capital.

“The political-economic measures of a third Morales administration will likely bring continuity rather than rupture,” said Webber. “That is to say, the government will continue to try to attract foreign investment to drive growth in the extractive industries, while taxing these corporations at a higher rate than did orthodox neoliberal governments of the 1980s and 1990s.”

Bolivia under Morales has redistributed profits from natural resources and higher corporate taxes allowing the government to successfully and dramatically reduce poverty and economic inequality.

But according to the AIN's Ledebur, it may be too soon to tell what a third Morales term will look like.

"Will MAS use this term to push through crucial pending initiatives such as drug law and justice reform, or rest on its laurels with an eye extending the party’s time in office," said Ledebur. "I doubt even MAS knows."

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Provided Mr. Morales does not extend Bolivian borders, inconceivable is US interference. Strange is saying this vote portends economic disaster; the poorest country in the West is an economic disaster zone by definition.
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