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Bolivia's Political System

Constitutional

Bolivia is a presidential, unified state republic. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how BO can stand for Bolivia. The current constitution was originally enacted in 1967 and revised in 1994. According to this constitution, the president is both head of state and head of government, and is elected in general, direct elections for five years; he cannot be immediately re-elected for a new term. The president appoints the government, is responsible for foreign policy, can issue decrees and also has certain legislative functions.

Political System of Bolivia

The Legislative Assembly, the National Congress, consists of a Senate with 36 members, three from each of the nine ministries, who are elected by the votes the party receives. The Chamber of Deputies has 130 members. Of these, 70 are elected directly from the electoral district, 53 from national party lists and 7 are representatives of indigenous peoples. Both chambers are elected in the general election for five years. There is a right to vote and a duty for anyone over the age of 18.

Political system

Bolivia is one of Latin America's most unstable states. Since independence in 1825, the country has had 16 different constitutions and about 200 extra-constitutional changes of government. Most of these have been bloody military coups. Bolivia has had democratically elected authorities since 1982.

Until 1952, politics was dominated by a small number of families and the military centers of power. The revolution in 1952, carried out by the Socialist Party of the MNR (Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario) and the unions, expanded the voting rights of most people, took land from the landlords and gave it to the local inhabitants, and nationalized the industry. Although Bolivia was mostly ruled by coup makers from 1952 to 1982, the revolution was the start of democracy the country has today.

The most important power factor in Bolivian society has been the party MNR and it has held power for several periods. It began as a socialist/social democratic party that has gradually moved toward the center and eventually, under the leadership of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, instituted a neo-liberal policy that privatized state-owned enterprises to entice foreign investors.

Parties both to the right and to the left of the MNR have had power but none for as long as the MNR. An important reason for this is that parties, but also social movements in general, have been strongly linked to the popularity of a leader. Instead of building organizations and institutions, excessive trust is attached to individuals who can rarely fulfill all the promises quickly enough. This phenomenon, in Spanish called Caudillismo, is one of the causes of political instability.

The unions have also played an important role from 1952 to the present day. Their power is most evident in their ability to mobilize for massive demonstrations, blocking important roads and strikes. They have less influence on the day-to-day decisions of the authorities.

The Constitution of 2009

A new constitution came into force on 7 February 2009 and differs from previous constitution at several important points. The process of developing the new constitution began when Evo Morales became president in 2006. It is largely characterized by Morales being the first president in Bolivia's history who is not part of the traditional elite, but the son of a poor farmer from Aymara -folkegruppen.

As a result of the new constitution, the formal name of Bolivia is now the " Multiethnic State of Bolivia" (Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia). Bolivia was also defined as a secular state and not a Catholic state as before. In addition, seven members of the National Assembly are elected representatives of various ethnic groups of the indigenous population, following the constitutional amendments of 2009.

Administratively

Bolivia is divided into nine ministries, all governed by a presidential prefect, in 94 provinces, each headed by a sub-prefect and in over 1,000 cantons, led by "corregidores". In every department there is also a people-elected council.

Bolivia - Presidents (from 1936)

Period President
1936–1937 José David Toro
1937–1939 Germán Busch Becerra
1939–1940 Carlos Quintanilla
1940–1943 Enrique Peñaranda y del Castillo
1943–1946 Gualberto Villaroel
1946 Néstor Guillén
1946–1947 Tomás Monje Gutiérrez
1947–1949 Enrique Hertzog
1949–1951 Mamerto Urriolagoitía
1951–1952 Hugo Ballivían Rojas
1952 Hernán Siles Zuazo
1952–1956 Victor Paz Estenssoro
1956–1960 Hernán Siles Zuazo
1960–1964 Victor Paz Estenssoro
1964–1966 René Barrientos Ortuño
Alfredo Ovando Candia
1966–1969 René Barrientos Ortuño
1969 Luis Adolfo Siles Salinas
1969–1970 Alfredo Ovando Candia
1970–1971 Juan José Torres
1971–1978 Hugo Bánzer Suárez
1978 Juan Pereda Asbún
1978–1979 David Padilla Arancibia
1979 Walter Guevara Arze
1979 Alberto Natusch Busch
1979–1980 Lidia Gueiler Tejada
1980–1981 Luis García Meza
1981 3-man military junta
1981–1982 Celso Torrelio Villa
1982 Guido Vildoso Calderón
1982–1985 Hernán Siles Zuazo
1985–1989 Victor Paz Estenssoro
1989–1993 Jaime Paz Zamora
1993–1997 Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
1997–2001 Hugo Bánzer Suárez
2001–2002 Jorge Quiroga Ramírez
2002–2003 Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
2003–2005 Carlos Mesa
2005–2006 Eduardo Rodríguez
2006– Evo Morales

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