As experienced by several other countries in the Latin American region, Bolivia went through a tumultuous political history before finally attaining democratic rule. Following the 1952 Revolution, the country was ruled by military elites and faced political instability for almost two decades (1964-1982). The return to a democratically elected government occurred only in 1982 in the middle of an economic crisis and hyperinflation. Social discontent arose in the form of powerful social movements organized by indigenous peasants, miners, and coca leaf growers. Demands for greater participation and more significant impact from citizen voices emerged along these movements and were ultimately consolidated through the enactment of the Popular Participation Law (LPP) in 1994.
The LPP implemented decentralization policies that favored municipalities with a better and fairer distribution of tax revenues. It also fostered participatory planning and incorporated citizens into government monitoring through bodies such as Comités de Vigilancia (Oversight Committees). In parallel, political parties such as Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) included in their statutes their advocacy for a participatory democracy of consensus.
In 2005, Evo Morales, leader of the MAS Movement, won general elections and thus became the first indigenous president of Bolivia. Shortly after winning, Morales convened a new Constituent Assembly. The new Constitution was approved by a constitutional referendum in 2009, recognizing the State of Bolivia as a Plurinational State and adopting a participatory, representative and communal democracy as a form of government in its Article 11.
The literature also widely addresses institutional reforms conducted after the enactment of the new Constitution, which allowed for a decentralized government deeply rooted in communities, and traditional and ancestral forms of organization. Through different innovative mechanisms, Evo Morales’ government has also sought to strengthen political inclusion of historically marginalized groups. With 36 native nations living within its territory, Bolivia is one of the most diverse countries in Latin America. It has one of the highest rates of indigenous and peasant populations.
However, it also figures among the poorest countries in the region. In spite of such contrasting conditions, Bolivia’s citizen participation levels stand out not only regionally, but globally. In terms of electoral participation, for instance, the national presidential elections of 2014 had a voter turnout of 89.08%. Likewise, Bolivians are among the citizens that most actively participate in political and civic organizations, especially in activities aimed at solving community problems.
This graph indicates the percentage of each means of innovation adopted by all cases in the country. Each case draws on one (primary) or two (secondary) means of innovation; this graph reflects both. See our concepts page for a description of all four means of innovation.
This graph indicates the percentage of each end of innovation adopted by all cases in the country. Each case draws on one or more ends of innovation (up to five); this graph reflects all of them. See our concepts page for a description of all five ends of innovation.
Referendum on the Charter and Autonomous Statutes (regional, municipal, indigenous)
The Referendum on the Charter and Autonomous Statutes (regional, municipal, indigenous), was held in November 2016, so that 15 autonomous territorial entities from six departments of the country would vote ...Read more
The Vigilance Committees were a participatory body organized at the municipal level. They were created in the framework of the Law of Popular Participation in 1994 and were replaced by ...Read more
National Summit of Pluralistic Justice
The National Summit of Pluralistic Justice for Living Well is a space for social and institutional articulation which responds to citizen demand for improved access to justice, anti-corruption strategies, and ...Read more
First National Dialogue - "Bolivia towards the 21st century"
The First National Dialogue "Bolivia towards the 21st Century" was convened by the Bolivian national government in 1997 with the objective of promoting the debate between political, social and economic ...Read more
Drinking Water and Sanitation Committee
The Drinking Water and Sanitation Committees are a model for the management of local and community-based services. Its objectives are to manage drinking water independently through a system developed by ...Read more