The Bolivian presidential centrist candidate Carlos Mesa conceded the election on Monday after an unofficial rapid vote count signaled a decisive victory for the socialist candidate Luis Arce.

“The result of the quick count is very strong and very clear,” Mesa, the leader of the centrist Comunidad Ciudadana coalition, said during a press conference.

“The difference between the first candidate and the Comunidad Ciudadana is wide and it is up to us, those of us who believe in democracy, to recognize that there has been a winner in this election.”

The Movement for Socialism (MAS) candidate, Luis Arce, received some 52 percent of votes, while Mesa got only around 31.5 percent, according to the rapid count. According to the country’s election laws, a candidate needs to get at least 40 percent support while beating the runner-up by at least 10 percent to secure a win without needing a second round of voting.

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Luis Arce, presidential candidate of the Movement to Socialism party, gestures from a vehicle in La Paz, Bolivia October 19, 2020. © Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino
Luis Arce, from ex-leader Evo Morales’ party, on course to win Bolivian presidency – exit polls

Bolivia was sent into political turmoil last November, after long-term socialist leader Evo Morales was forced to resign amid mass protests and pressure from the country’s military. The unrest was sparked by allegations of vote rigging, however Morales and the socialists have described his removal as “forced” and a “coup.” The ousted president left for Mexico, and later went on to Argentina.

The ousting of Morales, however, did not calm things in Bolivia. The right-wing interim government faced huge protests and strikes staged by Morales’ supporters, and responded by deploying heavy-handed policing measures.

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