Morales pick leads in Bolivia opinion polls


La Paz (AFP)
The candidate of ex-president Evo Morales' socialist party, Luis Arce, has taken a commanding lead in opinion polls ahead of the May 3 presidential election in Bolivia, a poll published Monday showed.

Arce, handpicked by Morales as candidate for the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, has 33.3 percent of voter intentions, with former president Carlos Mesa a distant second on 18.3 percent. Right-wing interim President Jeanine Anez is running in third place on 16.9 percent, according to pollsters Ciesmori.

Bolivia returns to the polls after voting monitors for the Organization of American States dismissed Morales' first-round victory in October 20 elections as fraudulent.
Morales resigned the presidency in November and fled the country after losing the support of the army amid violent protests.

A previous opinion poll released in late February showed Arce with 32 percent, Mesa on 23 percent and Anez on 21 percent.

However, the latest poll is the first to show that Morales' candidate would triumph in a second round.

The poll showed powerful regional leader Luis Fernando Camacho back in fourth position on 7.1 percent.

The May 3 election will go to a second round if no candidate reaches 50 percent, or 40 percent with a margin of 10 percentage points over the nearest candidate.

The poll showed Arce would narrowly beat Anez in a June 14 second round runoff -- 43.2 to 42 percent -- while he would beat Mesa by a slightly greater margin, 42.9 percent to 41 percent.

The pollsters canvassed 2,243 people for the survey between March 5 and 11, with a margin of error of 2 percent.

After Morales fled, Anez, a former deputy Senate speaker, stepped into a power vacuum to declare herself interim president and set a new election date for May 3.

Bolivia's supreme electoral court has disqualified Morales from running for a Senate seat, saying he did not meet residency requirements as he is currently living in Argentina.

© 2020 AFP