Politics of Bolivia

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The politics of Bolivia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the president is head of state, head of government and head of a diverse multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. Both the Judiciary and the electoral branch are independent of the executive and the legislature. After the 2014 election, 53.1% of the seats in national parliament were held by women, a higher proportion of women than that of the population.[1]


The civil war between the Conservatives and the Liberals ended in 1899 with the latter's victory; a liberal era began that lasted until 1920. A system of public education developed, accompanied by moderate anticlericalism: Catholicism lost its status as the only religion recognized by the State in 1906 and civil marriage was adopted in 1911. Bolivian liberalism, however, is clearly losing its progressive character to coexist with the interests of the new tin fortunes (the liberal era is sometimes also considered to be the tin era, with tin production having increased considerably), landowners and the army. Inspired by the example of the liberal revolution led by Eloy Alfaro in Ecuador, a new liberalism will organize itself into a republican party and express some social concerns against the domination of the liberal oligarchy.[2]


La Paz is Bolivia's Seat of Government.

Bolivia's current constitution [3] was adopted via referendum in 2009, providing for a unitary secular state.

Executive branch[edit]

The president is directly elected to a five-year term by popular vote. In the case that no candidate receives an absolute majority of the direct vote, congress will elect the president from among the two candidates most voted.

Hugo Banzer Suarez was elected president in 1997. Although no candidate had received more than 50% of the popular vote in the national election, Hugo Banzer Suarez won a congressional runoff election on 5 August 1997 after forming the so-called "megacoalition" with other parties. He resigned in August 2001 and was substituted by his vice president Jorge Fernando Quiroga. winner of the national election Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada was chosen president by Congress, winning an 84-43 vote against popular vote runner-up Evo Morales. Elected president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada resigned in October 2003, and was substituted by vice-president Carlos Mesa who governed the nation until his resignation in June 2005. He was replaced by chief justice of the Supreme Court Eduardo Rodríguez, acting as caretaker president. Six months later, on December 18, 2005, cocalero leader Evo Morales was elected president.

A group of MEPs acting as election observers oversaw a constitutional referendum in Bolivia that gave more power to indigenous peoples 25 January 2009. The tightly fought referendum laid out a number of key reforms such as allowing President Evo Morales to stand for re-election, state control over natural gas and limits on the size of land people can own.

 Coat of Arms of Bolivia
 Wiphala (National symbol of Bolivia)
Cabinet of Bolivia
Third Presidency of Evo Morales, 2015–2019
Office Name Term
Presidency Evo Morales 2006–2019
Vice Presidency Álvaro García Linera 2006–2019
Ministry of the Presidency Juan Ramón Quintana 2012–2017
René Martínez 2017–2019
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Chancellor) David Choquehuanca 2006–2017
Fernando Huanacuni Mamani 2017–2018
Diego Pary Rodríguez 2018–2019
Ministry of Government Carlos Romero Bonifaz 2012–2019
Ministry of Defense Reymi Luis Ferreira Justiniano 2015–2019
Solicitor General's Office Héctor Enrique Arcé Zaconeta March 2014–2019
Ministry of Cultures Marko Machicao Bankovic 2015–2017
Wilma Alanoca 2017–2019
Ministry of Development Planning René Gonzalo Orellana 2015–2017
Mariana Prado Noya 2017–2019
Ministry of Autonomy Hugo José Siles del Prado 2015–2017
Became a Vice Ministry within the Ministry of Justice in January 2017
Ministry of Education Roberto Aguilar Gómez 2008–2019
Ministry of Rural Development and Land Nemesia Achacollo Tola 2010–31 August 2015
César Cocarico 31 August 2015–2019
Ministry of Economy and Finance Luis Alberto Arce Catacora 2006–2019
Ministry of Public Works, Services, and Housing Milton Claros Hinojosa 2015–2019
Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy Félix César Navarro Miranda 8 April 2014–2019
Ministry of Justice Virginia Velasco Condori 2015–2017
Héctor Arce Zaconeta 2017–2019
Ministry of Health Ariana Campero Nava 2015–2019
Ministry of Sports Tito Rolando Montaño Rivera 2014–2019
Ministry of Work, Employment, and Social Security José Gonzalo Trigoso Agudo 2015–2019
Ministry of Institutional Transparency and the Fight against Corruption Lenny Tatiana Valdivia Bautista 2015–2017
Became a Vice Ministry within the Ministry of the Presidency in January 2017
Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy
from 2017 Ministry of Hydrocarbons
Luis Alberto Sánchez Fernández 2015–2019
Ministry of Energies Rafael Alarcón 2017–2019
Ministry of the Environment and Water María Alexandra Moreira López 2015–2017
Carlos Ortuño Yañez 2017–2019
Ministry of Productive Development and the Plural Economy Eugenio Rojas 2017–2019
Ministry of Communication Marianela Paco Durán 2015–2017
Gisela López 2017–2019
Minister of Development Planning Rene Gonzalo Orellana Halkyer 2015–2017
Unless otherwise specified, Ministerial transitions occurred during annual appointments in January: on 23 January in 2015, 2011, and 2012.


Bolivia currently has twenty-one ministries in the executive branch. The heads of these ministries form the cabinet.

Legislative branch[edit]

The bicameral Plurinational Legislative Assembly consists of the Chamber of Senators (36 seats; members are elected by proportional representation from party lists to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies (130 seats; 70 are directly elected from their districts, 63 are elected by proportional representation from party lists, and 7 are elected by indigenous peoples of most departments, to serve five-year terms).

Judicial branch[edit]

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Plurinational Constitutional Court, the Judiciary Council, Agrarian and Environmental Court, and District (departmental) and lower courts.

  • Plurinational Constitutional Court — rules on the constitutionality of government or court actions
  • Supreme Court of Justice
  • Agrarian and Environmental Court (Spanish: Tribunal Agroambiental) — highest court authority in matters of agriculture and the environment
  • Judiciary Council (Spanish: Consejo de la Magistratura) — oversees the conduct of courts and judges, including misconduct and ethical violations
  • District Courts (one in each department)
  • Provincial and local courts

In October 2011, Bolivia held its first judicial elections to choose members of the national courts by popular vote. Twenty-eight elected members and twenty-eight alternates were sworn in on 3 January 2011 in Sucre.

Plurinational Constitutional Court[edit]

The members of the Plurinational Constitutional Court, elected in October 2011, are: Ligia Velásquez, Mirtha Camacho, Melvy Andrade, Zoraida Chanes, Gualberto Cusi, Efraín Choque, and Ruddy Flores. The elected alternate members are: Isabel Ortuño, Lidia Chipana, Mario Pacosillo, Katia López, Javier Aramayo, Miriam Pacheco, and Rommy Colque.[4]

Supreme Court of Justice[edit]

The members of the Supreme Court of Justice, elected in October 2011, are: Maritza Suntura (La Paz Department), Jorge Isaac Von Borries Méndez (Santa Cruz), Rómulo Calle Mamani (Oruro), Pastor Segundo Mamani Villca (Potosí), Antonio Guido Campero Segovia (Tarija), Gonzalo Miguel Hurtado Zamorano (Beni), Fidel Marcos Tordoya Rivas (Cochabamba), Rita Susana Nava (Tarija), and Norka Natalia Mercado Guzmán (Pando).[4] The elected alternate members are: William Alave (La Paz), María Arminda Ríos García (Santa Cruz), Ana Adela Quispe Cuba (Oruro), Elisa Sánchez Mamani (Potosí), Carmen Núñez Villegas (Tarija), Silvana Rojas Panoso (Beni), María Lourdes Bustamante (Cochabamba), Javier Medardo Serrano (Tarija), and Delfín Humberto Betancour Chinchilla (Pando).[4] Gonzalo Miguel Hurtado Zamorano was elected President of the Court on 3 January 2012.

The Supreme Court of Justice replaces the Supreme Court, active since Bolivia's founding in 1825.

Judiciary Council[edit]

The members of the Judiciary Council, elected in October 2011, are (in order of total votes received): Cristina Mamani, Freddy Sanabria, Wilma Mamani, Roger Triveño, and Ernesto Araníbar.[5] Cristina Mamani was elected by her peers as the first president of the Judiciary Council on 4 January 2012.[6]

Agro-environmental Court[edit]

The members of the Agro-environmental Court, elected in October 2011, are (in order of total votes received): Bernardo Huarachi, Deysi Villagómez, Gabriela Armijo Paz, Javier Peñafiel, Juan Ricardo Soto, Lucio Fuentes, and Yola Paucara. The elected alternate members are: Isabel Ortuño, Lidia Chipana, Mario Pacosillo, Katia López, Javier Aramayo, Miriam Pacheco, and Rommy Colque.[5]

Electoral branch[edit]

The electoral branch of Bolivia's government, formally the Plurinational Electoral Organ, is an independent branch of government which replaced the National Electoral Court in 2010. The branch consists of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the nine Departmental Electoral Tribunals, Electoral Judges, the anonymously selected Juries at Election Tables, and Electoral Notaries.[7] Wilfredo Ovando presides over the seven-member Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Its operations are mandated by the Constitution and regulated by the Electoral Regime Law (Law 026, passed 2010). The Organ's first elections will be the country's first judicial election in October 2011 and five municipal special elections expected to be held in 2011.

Local government[edit]

Bolivia is divided in nine departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Beni, La Paz, Oruro, Pando, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Tarija. Bolivia's nine departments received greater autonomy under the Administrative Decentralization law of 1995. Departmental autonomy further increased with the first popular elections for departmental governors, known as prefects, on 18 December 2005. Departments are governed by the elected governors (until 2010, prefects; and until 2005, appointed by the President) and by independently elected Departmental Legislative Assemblies (until 2010; Departmental Councils).

Bolivian cities and towns are governed by directly elected mayors and councils. Municipal elections were last held on 4 April 2010, with both mayors councils elected to five-year terms. The Popular Participation Law of April 1994, which distributes a significant portion of national revenues to municipalities for discretionary use, has enabled previously neglected communities to make striking improvements in their facilities and services.

Political parties and elections[edit]

The governing Movement for Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) is a Left-wing, Socialist political party led by Evo Morales, founded in 1997. It has governed the country since 2006, following the first ever majority victory by a single party in the December 2005 elections. MAS evolved out of the movement to defend the interests of coca growers. Currently, the MAS stands as a party committed to equality, indigenous rights, agrarian land reform, Constitutional reform as well as nationalization of key industries with an aim to redistribute the returns through increased social spending. Among the poor, rural and indigenous population the MAS enjoys nearly unanimous support.

The right-of-center opposition includes a variety of political parties. During the 2005-09 political cycle the largest of these was PODEMOS, a successor to Nationalist Democratic Action. In the 2009 elections, several parties and politicians united to form Plan Progreso para Bolivia – Convergencia Nacional, whose presidential candidate, Manfred Reyes Villa and parliamentary slate came in second in the 2009 elections.

Candidate Party Votes Percentage Deputies Senators
  Evo Morales Ayma Movement for Socialism 2.943.209 64,22 88 26
  Manfred Reyes Villa Plan Progress for Bolivia – National Convergence 1.212.795 26,46 37 10
  Samuel Doria Medina National Unity Front 258.971 5,65 3
  René Joaquino Carlos Social Alliance 106.027 2,31 2
  Ana María Flores Social Patriotic Unity Movement 23.257 0,51
  Román Loayza People 15.627 0,34
  Alejo Véliz Peoples for Liberty and Sovereignty 12.995 0,28
  Rime Choquehuanca Social Democratic Bolivia 9.905 0,22
  Valid votes 4.582.786 94,31
  Blank votes 156.290 3,22
  Null votes 120,364 2,48
  Total votes 4.859.440 100 130 36
Source: Comisión Nacional Electoral

Three political parties were dominant from 1982 to 2005: The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement which had carried out the 1952 Revolution; Revolutionary Left Movement; and Nationalist Democratic Action founded in 1982 by former dictator and later elected President Hugo Banzer.[8] Despite the revolutionary names of the first two, they generally pursued centrist economic policies.

Other parties include:

Social movements[edit]

Some of Bolivia's social movements are:

International affairs[edit]

International organization participation:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%) | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  2. ^ Latin America in the 20th century: 1889-1929, 1991, p. 314-319
  3. ^ Bolivian Constitution of 2009 Archived 2011-01-26 at the Wayback Machine(in Spanish)
  4. ^ a b c "Nace nueva etapa de la justicia boliviana". Los Tiempos. 2012-01-03. Archived from the original on 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  5. ^ a b "Votos nulos y blancos alcanzan 60%". Los Tiempos. 2011-11-11. Archived from the original on 2011-11-14. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  6. ^ "Consejo de la Magistratura elige a María Cristina Mamani Aguilar primera presidente". Los Tiempos. 2012-01-04. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  7. ^ "Posesionan a cuatro Vocales del Tribunal Supremo Electoral". La Jornada. 2010-08-16. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  8. ^ "Bolivia cierra un ciclo y emerge el nuevo Estado Plurinacional[permanent dead link]," La Prensa, December 30, 2009

External links[edit]