Bolivians went to the polls Sunday in a do-over election twice postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a year after botched elections sent longtime president Evo Morales into exile in Argentina. The national electoral commission has been slow to release results, but two private exit polls show Luis Arce, the candidate for Morales' Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, wining an outright majority of the votes in the first round. Former President Carlos Mesa is leading in the official count, based on 6 percent of ballots tabulated. But Arce claimed victory early Monday, and acting President Jeanine Áñez, a conservative rival of Morales, appeared to concede that MAS's candidate won the election.
Arce was economy minister under Morales, overseeing a period of economic expansion and reduced inequality. But Bolivia has one of the worst per capita outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world, so reviving the economy again is seen as a tough challenge. MAS is also expected to have won a majority in the 136-seat Legislative Assembly.