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Movement Towards Socialism (Bolivia)

Bolivia's ‘communitarian socialism’

Banner supporting a `yes' vote in the January 25, 2009, constitutional referendum.

By Federico Fuentes

April 1, 2009 -- The historic enactment of Bolivia’s new constitution that grants unprecedented rights to the country’s indigenous majority, approved by over 61% of the vote on January 25, represented the beginning of “communitarian socialism”, according to President Evo Morales.

This was not the first time Bolivia’s first indigenous president had raised the concept of “communitarian socialism”. In his April 2008 speech to the United Nations, Morales spoke of the need for “a communitarian socialism in harmony with Mother Earth”.

While Morales’s political party is officially known as Movement Towards Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP), it was originally simply IPSP. Blocked from registering itself as an electoral party, the IPSP took up the offer of the then-existing MAS party to use its registered name to run in elections.

Bolivia: `More of the same’? Or a break with `traditions’? The MAS: a paradoxical case of democratisation

By Hervé Do Alto, translated for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Gonzalo Villanueva with Do Alto’s permission. It was first published in Le Monde diplomatique (Bolivian edition) Febrero 2009, nº 11, pp. 6-8.

The Santos Ramirez affaire marked, undoubtedly, a shift in the social perception of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). [In February, Santos Ramirez, a former head of the state energy company YPFB, and former head of the Senate from 2006-2007, was charged with corruption and faces a lengthy prison sentence of up to eight years.]

As several researchers of the “political instrument” have highlighted, including Moira Zuazo, the credibility of the party created by Evo Morales in 1999 was largely constructed on bases of ethical politics.[1]
This "ethical principle", symbolised by the implementation of the Austerity Law at the beginning of the Morales administration in 2006, played a fundamental role in establishing the dichotomy between, on the one hand, the so-called traditional parties (members of the "agreed democracy") and, on the other, movements  that raised the slogan of the moral reform of the discredited Bolivian politics.

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