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30/09/2009 | Bolivia's Morales to win reelection in December-poll

Reuters Staff

Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales is likely to win reelection and gain control of both chambers of Congress in December, according to an opinion poll published on Tuesday.Morales, the Andean country's first Indian president, nationalized energy, mining and telecommunications companies in his first term and vows to expand state control over the economy if he wins the Dec. 6 election.

 

He is also promising to spend heavily in social projects, including roads, hospitals and schools, and expand political rights for indigenous peoples.

According to the Ipsos Apoyo poll published by La Razon newspaper, some 54 percent of people support Morales -- more than his closest contender, Manfred Reyes, the former governor of the central region of Cochabamba, who has 20 percent.

Conservative politician Samuel Doria Medina, a wealthy cement businessman, trailed far behind with 11 percent.

Morales would avoid a runoff if he wins more than 50 percent of the votes, or more than 45 percent with a 10 point lead over the runner-up.

Morales, an Aymara Indian from a poor background, needs a solid victory to dominate Congress, which would allow his party to pass legislation without having to negotiate with the opposition.

He has long complained that opposition parties have used their slim majority in the Senate to block dozens of bills proposed by his government and backed by his party -- the Movement Toward Socialism.

An opinion poll released earlier this month by Encuestas & Estudios Gallup showed Morales with 57.7 percent support.

If reelected, Morales will have to deal with falling revenues due to lower prices for minerals and energy exports and dwindling Brazilian demand for natural gas, the country's main revenue earner.

He will also need to tackle a strong pro-autonomy movement in eastern regions where his socialist policies are unpopular.

Reyes has vowed to give eastern regions more autonomy if he wins and to release his imprisoned running mate, Leopoldo Fernandez. Fernandez, a former governor, is awaiting trial for genocide over the deaths of at least 10 Morales supporters during violent anti-government protests last year.

For the poll, Ipsos Apoyo surveyed over 1,600 people in the nine regions of the country. The poll has an error margin of 2.45 percentage points.

Morales won sweeping victories in a recall vote in August last year and a constitutional referendum in January, thanks chiefly to votes from Indians, who make up around 60 percent of the population.

**Reporting by Carlos Quiroga; Writing by Eduardo Garcia, Editing by Terry Wade and Anthony Boadle

Reuters (Estados Unidos)

 


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