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Cablegate: Elections Update

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DE RUEHLP #1841 1871501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061501Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9859
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 5979
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3297
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RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS LA PAZ 001841

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND L.PETRONI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BL
SUBJECT: ELECTIONS UPDATE

REF: LA PAZ 1808

1. (SBU) Approximately 80 percent of the July 2 election
results are in, and National Electoral Court officials expect
around 90 percent by July 7. Most analysts anticipate high
voter participation rates, perhaps approaching the 84.5
percent of the December 2005 national elections. While voter
turnout appears solid, many Bolivians submitted blank ballots
-- 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in Tarija and
Pando, the only two departments with official results. In
December, by comparison, the numbers were much lower -- 5
percent in Tarija and 3 percent in Pando. Some analysts
believe this trend will continue in the other seven
departments and speculate that it represents citizens' lack
of information about the candidates, general apathy (voting
itself is compulsory), or a protest vote.

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2. (SBU) Another emerging trend appears to be the growth of
the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party in eastern Bolivia.
In December, the MAS won 31 percent of the vote in Tarija
and 20 percent in Pando. MAS support increased to 45 percent
in Tarija and 37 percent in Pando, both impressive gains in
just over six months. While final results are not yet
available for Santa Cruz, early indications are that the MAS
vote also increased significantly in that department. Such
large gains are likely due as much to Podemos' weakness
following the December elections (both financially and in
terms of its slate of candidates) as to the MAS' wealth of
resources and its ability to shift them to eastern Bolivia
following its relatively weak showing there in December.
GREENLEE

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