Election Day

By Published On: December 18, 2005Categories: Politics0 Comments on Election Day

The first thing I noticed when I woke up was how quiet it was. I am used to waking to a dawn chorus of car horns, but all unofficial cars are banned on election days so the sound was replaced with the distant patter of footsteps of people making their way to the polls.

Bolivians seem to take elections more seriously than Brits. Two days ago election campaigning was ended and alcohol banned to allow people to reflect on their vote. Then today all transport was stopped, shops closed and people expected to do their civic duty and vote (there are penalties if you don’t).

I headed to the local secondary school with my flatmate Ceci and a friend Rogelio Mayte to see how the vote was done. There were various tables where you are checked off, ballot papers shown to party observers to be blank, then you enter a classroom, file your vote and post in the box. So pretty similar to England then.

Whilst I was waiting, I spent my time looking to see if there were subliminal messages to vote a particular way. In the sunny courtyard, there were some red Coca-Cola sun-umbrellas next to a chorizo stall. I was just thinking that that was clearly a blatant hint to vote for Tuto (US friendly, red-flagged party) when the music player started blasting out the theme tune MAS have been using for their commercials.

I asked Ceci how she felt voting. “It feels historic. These elections weren’t planned, but came around because of the protests by the social movements. There is no doubt they are important.” Rogelio Mayte added: “We could have the first Indigenous leader of Bolivia in about 500 years.” You don’t get much more historic than that.


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