Bolivia’s socialist candidate Luis Arce appears to have won the presidential election in the first round of voting.
Bolivian TV channel Unitel released the initial count from authoritative pollster Ciesmori at around midnight on Sunday, showing Arce, with 52.4% of the vote.
“Very grateful for the support and trust of the Bolivian people,” Arce tweeted Monday. “We have recovered democracy and we will regain stability and social peace. United, with dignity and sovereignty,” he said.
Interim president Jeanine Anez, who was not running, congratulated Arce and his running mate David Choquehuanca for the likely victory.
Arce’s centrist rival Carlos Mesa, 67, came in second with 31.5%, according to the same pollster.
If the results hold, the leftwing party of former president Evo Morales, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), will return to power.
Although the electoral authority is in the early stage of counting, Morales said on Sunday from Buenos Aires, where he has taken refuge, that Arce had won the presidential election.
“Undoubtedly today is an historic day. Once again, the Bolivian people have delivered a lesson in democracy and perseverance. The people have resisted a coup, a de facto government, two massacres, a pandemic management marked by inefficiency and corruption, several delays on the elections and the worst economic crisis in our history,” Morales said.
Sunday’s election, which was postponed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the first in 20 years not to have Morales, the country’s first ever indigenous leader, on the ballot.
After allegations of voting irregularities last year Morales resigned in November 2019, after 14 years in power.