As expected, reports indicate that the people have Bolivia have approved the new constitution proposed by President Evo Morales, though by a smaller margin than some had expected. The new constitution is designed to provide the nation's indigenous populations a greater role in the country's political and economic systems by giving the central government greater involvement in the economy, particularly in the areas of natural resources and distribution of land and wealth. It also calls for judges to be elected rather than appointed, raising concerns about the politicization of the country's judiciary, and permits President Morales to run for an additional five-year term in the upcoming December elections.
In the lead-up to the referendum, which has itself fanned existing concerns about nationalization of private businesses, President Morales ordered the seizure by government troops of the Bolivian operations of Pan American Energy LLC, an Argentinean company. The government justified the seizure based upon the company's purported failure to follow certain nationalization rules. The move will only increase nationalization concerns among foreign and local private companies, including those in the insurance and reinsurance industry.
Reports indicate that the new constitution passed by a 60% popular vote, a smaller majority than that received by President Morales in August when faced with a recall vote. The measure also appears to have been soundly rejected in the Eastern states, further demonstrating the nation's ideological divide concerning President Morales' initiatives along ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic lines.