Bolivia’s socialists all but sealed a dramatic election comeback after their centrist rival Carlos Mesa conceded the vote on Monday, with several unofficial vote counts giving the party of ousted leader Evo Morales an unassailable 20 percentage-point lead.
The win, still to be confirmed by the official count, would sweep the party of leftist Morales back into power a year after he was forced to resign following a fraught election that sparked widespread protests and violence.
The socialist MAS party’s candidate Luis Arce, 57, took more than 50% of the votes, rapid counts showed, with Mesa on around 30%, a far larger gap than pollsters had predicted.
“The result of the quick count is very strong and very clear,” Mesa said at a press conference after the socialist party had claimed victory in the early hours of the morning.
“The difference between the first candidate and (our) Comunidad Ciudadana party 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.”