Bolivia is a Presidential Republican governmental state. In 2005, Bolivia moved toward socialism by electing Evo Morales as president. He ran on a promise to change the traditional political class of the country and empower the nation’s poor and indigenous people (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bl.html).
Every five years a presidential election is held in Bolivia in hopes of alternating power. However, in the October 2020 election, president Evo Morales plans to run for a fourth term, despite there previously being term limits. The initial term limit for a president in Bolivia was two consecutive five-year terms, or ten years in total.
Recently, Bolivian President Evo Morales has expressed a desire to run for a fourth term. Some citizens of Bolivia describe Morales as “acting more as an emperor than a president” (https://www.npr.org/2019/10/14/767967304/how-bolivias-evo-morales-could-win-a-4th-term-as-president). They say this because of his office and other government facilities were moved to a 29-story building in the capital district.
Morales is the longest serving president in the history of Bolivia with fourteen years under his belt. In 2016, Morales tried to get the term limits lifted so he could run again, but he failed. Therefore, he appealed to the higher courts. However, considering the higher courts are filled with allies of his, he was able to amend the constitution of Bolivia, and run for another term. The judges said if he could not become president for another term that “his human rights as the president would be violated if he was not allowed on the ballot”.
Maria Angela Alvizuri, a Bolivian citizen, said, “He should not be candidate, but that’s just the way dictators operate”. Diego Ayo, another Bolivian citizen and newspaper columnist said, “Morales is starting to act like other elected presidents in Latin America who are turning increasingly authoritarian” (https://www.npr.org/2019/10/14/767967304/how-bolivias-evo-morales-could-win-a-4th-term-as-president). Ayo also continues on to say, “we have had great deterioration of democracy. It would be really naive to say that we are in a democracy just because we hold elections.”
In the town of Tiwanaku, Juan Condori, an Aymara Indian, owns a small plot of land. A government program has helped him, and his neighbors build greenhouses. Condori stated, “I love this government and I want it to continue. I don’t know where all this talk about Morales being a dictator comes from.”
The way Morales has continued to be president considering the term limits is an example of Bolivia getting into a democratic backsliding. According to Andrea Kendall-Taylor’s “How Democracies Fall Apart”, “leaders first come to power through democratic elections and subsequently harness widespread discontent to gradually undermine institutional constraints on their rule”. To put that into simpler terms, a president will come into power through democratic elections, and overtime they will slowly undermine constraints on their rule, making it easier for the democratic nation to fall. In order for a county to be considered democratic, it has to have alternation in power through competitive elections. What Morales is doing is neither alternating power (he has been president coming up on 14 years), nor having a competitive election.
According to Nancy Bermeo’s “On Democratic Backsliding”, executive aggrandizement contrasts with all forms of coup making in that it takes place without executive replacement, and at a slower pace. This tends to occur through the weakening of checks by elected executives one by one.
To me, this sounds almost exactly like what Morales is doing to the presidency in Bolivia. He has slowly stopped people from taking his place, i.e. no longer having terms on a presidency. He also has weakened the checks by manipulation of the executives in charge, due to them being supporters of his.
Nancy Bermeo has an example of this happening, in Turkey where president Recep Tayyip Erdogan led his party to a resounding victory in the 2002 elections. He then attracted increasing shares of the vote in 2007 as well as 2011. His party’s strength in parliament provided the infrastructure for the “quiet revolution” he promised his supporters.
Overall, I believe Bolivia is in a democratic backsliding due to the rules and laws Morales has broken and overthrown in order to stay in power. Without alternation in power, he will continue to believe he is the best and no one will try to stand up to him due to all the power he possesses.
“How Democracies Fall Apart” Andrea Kendall- Taylor and Erica Frantz
“On Democratic Backsliding” Nancy Bermeo