RELEASE DATE: 01 Sep, 2014

EDITORIAL BY Sara Shahriari

As Bolivia kicks into election season high gear with the vote for president just weeks away, the Bolivian Express writers chose to explore campaigns for this month's issue.

Many facets of a political campaign go far beyond promises and policy. For example, we absorb everything from catchy promotional songs with lyrics that embed themselves in our brains to the very clothes candidates choose to wear. Consider a few of this year's hopefuls: President Evo Morales in a polished, but not western, suit jacket; Samuel Doria Medina in a blue every-man hoodie looking ready to head out for a jog; and Fernando Vargas, an indigenous leader from the country's lowlands, sporting his signature leather sombrero.

Focusing on campaigns and elections in Bolivia, we must of course take a long look at President Morales, who now stands for a third term as president while running far ahead of his opponents in polls. Not everyone agrees that a third term is the right direction for Bolivia, though the constitutional tribunal endorsed the President's right to run again last year.

Then there is social media, a tool which every year reaches more Bolivians as internet and computer access expand. Social media promises to bring the average voter into a sort of direct - albeit electronic - contact with candidates. The way candidates of all stripes wage campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and beyond is an ever-evolving art. In the physical world, political allegiances and slogans are declared on the limited real estate of rural and urban walls, where graffiti ranging from the basic to the ornate forms a constantly changing, silent debate.

Also closely tied to the elections is a campaign known as 'Machistas Fuera de la Lista,' formed by feminist groups to demand that candidates who express chauvinistic beliefs withdraw from whatever political race they are involved in, be it local or national.

Of course not all campaigns directly relate to this year's elections. The Morales government has long cultivated associations between the president and indigenous leader Tupac Katari, who was killed by the Spanish in 1781 while leading a revolt against the colonial power. On a literary note, a project to select the greatest Bolivian books of all-time could be interpreted as a campaign to develop and solidify the nation's identity.

Moving beyond this month's articles, it's important to note that the 2014 elections occur just 32 years after Bolivia's return to democracy, which followed 18 years of military rule, dictatorship, or short-lived and unstable governments. It's a reminder that the ability to campaign for public office, or anything else for that matter, is a right that cannot be taken for granted.



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26 Sep, 2014 | Nikola Maksimovic

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