Evo Morales is claiming a third term in office win in Bolivia’s presidential elections.
“This win is a triumph for anti-imperialists and anti-colonialists,” Evo Morales told cheering supporters at the presidential palace in La Paz.
Exit polls show Evo Morales on 60%, well ahead of his rivals, as votes are counted.
To avoid a run-off, Evo Morales must win 50% of valid votes, or 40% if that includes a 10-point lead over his nearest rival.
Evo Morales has overseen strong economic growth since taking office in 2006 and has been widely tipped to win.
He has presided over a period of economic growth and reduced poverty, using Bolivia’s commodity wealth to reduce poverty levels.
However, he has been criticized for failing to halt corruption.
Evo Morales’s party, the Movement Toward Socialism, is also expected to make gains and win a strong majority in Congress.
The poll passed without major incident, according to the electoral authorities and foreign observers.
Since 2006, Evo Morales’s government has focused on education subsidies, increased pensions and spending on public works.
He has been boosted by a boom in commodities prices that has helped propel export revenues nine-fold.
The revenue has helped fund policies that have created an average annual economic growth of 5%, well above the regional average.
It has also funded public works projects, including a cable car system for the capital, La Paz.
Some 500,000 people have been taken out of poverty.
The oil, gas, mining, telecommunications and water sectors have all been nationalized.
Evo Morales’s critics say he has introduced measures which are harmful to the environment and presided over a corrupt administration.
He is also accused of using millions of dollars in government cash to fund his re-election campaign and that this has helped create a fractured opposition.
Heading into the elections, Samuel Doria Medina was Evo Morales’ closest rival.
Samuel Doria Medina vowed to clean up the judiciary if elected.
Evo Morales will want to maintain his two-thirds control of Bolivia’s Senate and assembly, which are also holding elections.
This could allow him to alter the constitution to permit a fourth term in office.
Evo Morales has already benefited from a court ruling that permitted him to run for a third term.
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