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Santiago Maldonado Aquino

Faced with the electoral mirage of political parties and ideologies

- Geographically, the balance of political power is tilted in favor of the MAS-IPSP.

Faced with the electoral mirage of political parties and ideologies

The analysis of geopolitical variables allows configuring a governance framework after the electoral process carried out in a certain territory, in this case I will limit myself to the past subnational elections held in Bolivia and the respective study of the governorships. Already after any electoral process, the configuration of governance is essential for the exercise of power, so this is achieved with an adequate analysis that facilitates the elected representative to exercise governance with solid criteria.

Throughout the analysis, various analytical factors/variables are presented with which it is intended to demonstrate the development of the Bolivian geographical space (cities) in national elections and what impact these have from a political point of view. The platform Economipedia defines geopolitics as a study method used to understand, as well as to explain and analyze how political behavior is developing, taking into account account for a number of geographic variables. However, if it is deemed convenient, said concept (geopolitics) is deleted and replaced by the term "politics" if necessary.

The latter based on geopolitical variables such as electoral geography, electoral demography and preferences for party affinities or party membership. Being so, the aforementioned, allows us to avoid misleading electoral mirages, manage solid governance criteria and rule out false hypotheses based on chimerical premises about the results obtained in the elections.

Electoral configuration in Bolivia

On March 7 (1st round) and April 8 (2nd round) the subnational elections were held in Bolivia, where governors of each of the 9 departments and mayors in the 336 municipalities were elected, demonstrating a different electoral preference. to the previous elections. It is necessary to emphasize that since the Political Constitution of the State (CPE) was approved in 2009, governors and mayors are elected by secret universal vote (Honorable National Congress, 2009), the first was held in 2010, the second in 2015 and the third this year.

In the last two subnational elections, the electoral preference was for the current government party: the Movimiento al Socialismo – Instrumento Político por la Soberania de los Pueblos (MAS-IPSP) and from the point of view of trends, it would seem that in the current elections the preferential majority that this political party had was fragmented. However, this political mirage must be analyzed from different perspectives to really understand the geopolitical phenomenon of departmental power based on the electoral preference of society.

The MAS-IPSP won in the departments of Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosí; the Third System Movement (MTS) in Pando and Beni; Jallalla won in the department of La Paz; Chuquisaca Somos Todos (CST) won in Chuquisaca; We believe in Santa Cruz; and United to Renew (UNIR) won in Tarija. Quantitatively from the perspective of the departmental geographic spaces, the result of power would be 3 departments for the MAS-IPSP, 2 for the MTS, and 1 department respectively for Jallalla, CST, Creemos and UNIR.

This geopolitical configuration would lead to the deduction that the electoral preference diversified instead of being concentrated (as happened in the 2010 and 2015 elections). The tendency was to group the vote in the MAS-IPSP, or at least stick to the 6 x 3 formula, which means preserving the electoral preference in 6 departments, against 3 that remained in the hands of the opposition (Sánchez, 2015). Instead of maintaining this preference in the last elections, the result of 3 x 6 was reversed, that is, the MAS-IPSP won in 3 departments and the opposition in the remaining 6 (see graph 1). These results of the electoral preference, without a doubt, allow the analysis to be carried out from the point of view of the governance that would occur in each one of the Bolivian departments.

Graph 1. Map of subnational electoral results for 2010, 2015 and 2021.

Source: Own elaboration based on the Plurinational Electoral Body (Electoral Transparency, 2021).

Electoral geography for departmental governance

The analysis of the electoral preference for departmental governance, from the geographical perspective, is analyzed from 3 criteria: (a) from the criterion of departments that maintained an unalterable electoral behavior in their preference in favor of the government party; (b) from the unalterable behavior of the population in favor of the opposition parties; and (c) from the behavior of the voters in the departments that alternated between voting in favor of the ruling party and voting for the opposition.

It is clear that in the past subnational elections, from a geographical perspective, there is a common behavior in 3 departments (Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosí) where it has been shown that the MAS-IPSP retains electoral preference. Likewise, it is established that in 2 departments up to now it could not obtain victory (Tarija and Santa Cruz), where the electoral preference was in favor of other political fronts contrary to that of the ruling party. While in the remaining 4 departments (Pando, Beni, Chuquisaca and La Paz) the preference was banded between the MAS-IPSP and the opposition, that is, sometimes the ruling party won, other times the opposition.

This means a power ratio of 3 x 2 / 4. In 3 departments the MAS-IPSP maintains a solid presence, in 2 the opposition and in 4 they divide power, sometimes alternating in favor, sometimes against. Although the tendency in La Paz and Beni is towards the opposition, the same is not true of Pando and Chuquisaca, whose tendency is towards the ruling party. From the geographical point of view, it is inferred that there is a superiority of power of the MAS-IPSP with 3 permanent departments and 2 volatile ones, adding 5 departments in its favor. Therefore, the opposition has 2 permanent departments and 2 volatile ones, making a total of 4 departments.

Geographically, the balance of political power is tilted in favor of the MAS-IPSP, which shows that it is not the apparent geographical mirage where it only holds power in 3 departments due to the results of the last subnational elections. This geographical conclusion combined with the behavior of the population mass and the departmental legislative power, that is, the Departmental Assemblies, will later demonstrate the change of actors in the governance of each department where there is not a representative of the MAS-IPSP (this due to the behavior and political game that characterizes this party).

Electoral demography for departmental governance

According to data from the Plurinational Electoral Body (OEP) – the fourth public power of the State – the electoral roll is 7,026,294 inhabitants, whose preference from the point of view of governance is analyzed from 3 criteria: (a) by electoral preference for the total of the voting population by department, (b) by the population of the departmental capital cities and (c) by the electoral preference of the population of the provinces of each department.

Regarding the electoral preference by departments, it is evident that the ruling party obtained 30.4% of the inhabitants of the total electoral roll, which corresponds to the population of Cochabamba, Potosí and Oruro; while the opposition that, although it is dispersed in the partisan political position, corresponds to 69.6%. The results of the electoral preference in the departmental capitals show little variation in the percentage (for the ruling party it is 28.5% and for the opposition 71.5%), although the numerical difference in the electoral roll in the capitals is considerably different. Finally, the number of electoral preference in the provinces represents only 31.9% for the ruling party and 68.1% for the opposition.

Complementing the analysis of electoral preference, as far as the ease of governance by departments is concerned, 3 demographic groups can be distinguished: (a) with an electoral roll of more than one million, where the departments of La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, called those of the central axis of Bolivia; (b) departments with an electoral roll between 300,000 to 500,000 voters, Potosí, Tarija, Chuquisaca and Oruro belong to this group; and (c) finally those with fewer than 300,000 voters (such as the departments of Beni and Pando). In the first group of departments, the electoral preference was for the opposition with 74% (La Paz and Santa Cruz) while Cochabamba remained with the ruling party with 26%. In the second group, the electoral preference was for the ruling party with 51.6% (Potosí and Oruro) and the opposition reached 48.4% in Tarija and Chuquisaca. Finally, in the third group the electoral preference for the ruling party is 0%, while the opposition represents 100%.

From the demographic perspective of governance based on electoral preference, it is stated that the opposition offers better governance opportunities due to the electoral preference of the voting population, both for the analysis of the demographics of the departments, the departmental capitals and for the provinces of the departments. This means that the mirage of the electoral preference for the vote in the provinces that has been mentioned so much to give the MAS-IPSP an electoral victory, is just a political illusion. The truth is demonstrated by the electoral preference that has been quantitatively determined in the demographic analysis that will facilitate governance.

Electoral preference by affinity

The analysis of the results of the 2021 subnational elections is carried out from the perspective of governance in the departments, taking into account the electoral preference by political affinity. For which it is considered: (a) the political affinity by party ideology and by (b) the personal political affinity of the elected representative.

Due to the political affinity by partisan ideology (a), the MAS-IPSP has 2 characteristics: one of them is the root socialist political ideology of the acronym "Movement to Socialism" (MAS) and the other characteristic of populist social roots that is the "Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples" (IPSP). It is for these 2 characteristics that the electoral preference agglutinates and won in 3 departments (Cochabamba, Oruro and Potosí).

However, there is also political party affinity with the Movimiento Tercer Sistema (MTS) which won in 2 departments, Pando and Beni, as well as with Jallalla La Paz which won precisely in the department of La Paz. Both the MAS-IPSP, as well as the MTS and Jallalla, have a deep affinity for the populist social character rather than for the socialist and communist ideology. Which reveals a truth that due to this populist social affinity there is a majority of 6 departments with the same characteristics, leaving aside the electoral mirage that would only be present in 3 departments, when in reality there are 6 departments.

Due to the personal political affinity of the elected representative (b), although 3 represent the ruling party, let us not forget that the elected representative in Pando (Regis Richter) has his origins in being a militant and supporter of the MAS-IPSP and that he only bore the acronym of MTS in the electoral process. The same happens with the elected representative in Chuquisaca (Damián Condori), also a former Quechua militant of the ruling party who, when he was not elected in 2015 as a candidate for governor, formed his own organization under the name of Chuquisaca Somos Todos (CST).

This means that, due to the roots of personal affinity of the representatives, 5 would be the departments that have this characteristic with a tendency towards the ruling party, which also with this argument vanishes the electoral mirage that this political party has only won in 3 departments , when in reality due to the personal affinity of the elected representatives, there are 5.

Final considerations

Thanks to the geopolitical analysis of electoral preferences, it is established that, delving into variables dissimilar to daily or superficial ones, it is possible to determine truths where there is a need to take them seriously and responsibly, given that the electoral results for universal vote alone they are not enough and cause the so-called electoral mirage that can be misleading and false.

Geographical conditions of the electoral map, demographic characteristics of the population with the electoral roll, the qualities of party ideological affinity and personal affinity of belonging to a party, holistically configure the electoral preference in order to determine the necessary governance of departmental governments.

It is also demonstrated that the electoral roll must be analyzed by criteria such as the qualities of geographical location, be it in the departmental capitals or in the provinces, which allows establishing urban and rural electoral preferences. In fact, this allows us not to let loose that electoral victory is only due to rural preference, without taking urban preference into account, generating another deceptive electoral mirage.

In short, geographic electoral preferences must be combined with demographic variables and ideological, sociological, and ethnographic trends to have a picture of electoral results that facilitate, and allow, governance in the departments or states of a given country; being so that cases like Bolivia are replicated throughout Latin America since we not only share a common past.


    Honorable Congreso Nacional. (2009). Constitución Política del Estado. La Paz: Gaceta Oficial de Bolivia.

    Órgano Electoral Plurinacional. (2021). Elección de autoridades políticas departamentales, regionales y municipales 2021. La Paz: OEP.

    Sánchez, G. (2015). Elecciones sub nacionales 2015 en Bolivia: ¿Derrota o victoria del MAS? Revista el Horizonte, 77 – 84.

    Transparencia electoral. (2021). Informe preliminar de las elecciones de autoridades políticas departamentales, regionales y municipales de Bolvia 2021. La Habana: Transparencia electoral.

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Maldonado, Santiago. “Frente al espejismo electoral de partidos políticos e ideologías.” CEMERI, 20 sept. 2022,