Hemisphere Focus: Bolivia's Constitutional Vote
January 22, 2009
On January 25, Bolivians will vote in a national referendum to approve or reject the text of a new constitution. Since assuming power in January 2006, President Evo Morales has persistently followed the course of action he promised in his presidential campaign: replacing the constitution of 1967 with a new charter that would enlarge the political role of Bolivia’s indigenous majority and allow for his continuation in office; broadening state presence in the economy, including complete national control over the strategic hydrocarbons sector; expanding coca production; and pursuing policies to make him—in his own words—a “nightmare” for the United States.
Should Bolivians approve the new constitution—and by all indications they will—Morales would be eligible for at least one more consecutive five-year term in office, an option denied him under the current system. Elections for president and for a national legislature under the terms of the new constitution would then take place in December 2009. These changes create the potential for Evo Morales to remain as president until at least 2015.