[JURIST] Bolivian lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill allowing incumbent President Evo Morales [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to seek a third term in the nation’s 2014 elections. Bolivia’s lower house approved the bill 84 to 33 [MercoPress report] despite the single re-election provision in the Bolivian Constitution [text, in Spanish] after the measure was approved in the Senate. The constitution was amended [JURIST report] in 2009 after Morales’s first term in office began in 2005. In 2008, Morales engineered an endorsement [JURIST report] of the constitution by agreeing not to seek reelection in 2014. However, in April, Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled [JURIST report] that the two consecutive term limit does not apply retroactively, meaning next year’s election would legally count as Morales’s first re-election. Elections are scheduled for December 2014, but Morales has made no comments regarding his plans to run for a third term. If Morales chooses to run and succeeds, he will become Bolivia’s longest-serving president [MercoPress report], serving continuously from 2006 to 2020.
Morales is the first indigenous president to be elected in Bolivia and the theme of his presidency [JURIST report] has been advancing the interest of the majority indigenous community. On June 8, 2010, the Bolivian National Congress approved [JURIST report] legislation that would create an independent justice system for indigenous communities. In March 2009, Morales began redistributing land [JURIST report] to indigenous farmers under power given to him by the country’s new constitution. Bolivia’s new constitution went into effect in February 2009, placing more power in the hands of the country’s majority. It also created seats in Congress for minority indigenous groups. In August 2008, Morales won a referendum to continue his presidency, which he personally proposed in a bid to legitimize his campaign [JURIST reports] for the constitutional changes.