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Crisis in Bolivia: The Elections of 2002 and their Aftermath




Edited by Willem Assies & Ton Salmon . Published 2004. ISBN 9781900039604



Detailed Description

Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada stepped down as president of Bolivia on 17 October 2003 after several weeks of mass demonstrations and the shooting of scores of protestors by the army. Crisis in Bolivia was initially drafted after a previous eruption of popular outrage in February of that year. The authors interpreted this as a final warning as to Bolivia's governability, a warning they perceived as implicit though largely unremarked in the 2002 elections. Subsequent developments would appear to confirm this judgment. On the surface the national elections held in Bolivia on 30 June 2002 the fifth since the return to democracy in 1982 saw the population make its political choices in an atmosphere of tranquillity and order. However, this apparent consolidation and institutionalisation of democracy proved to be illusory. The authors suggest that an understanding of the outcomes of the 2002 elections, most notably the success of 'anti-systemic' movements and relatively weak performance of traditional political contenders, requires an analysis of the return to democracy in 1982 and the shift to neoliberalism in 1985. They present a brief overview of Bolivia's political history since 1982 highlighting this 'double transition'. Although the adjustment policies brought macroeconomic stability, they provided little benefit for the majority of the population and turned into a source of increasing discontent. The authors explore the nature of this discontent prior to considering the development of Bolivian politics and party system within theoretical models of democratic consolidation, and conclude by examining the debouchment of these strands into the superficially 'surprising' results of the 2002 elections and the subsequent socio-political crisis.