Arce’s leading rival, Carlos Mesa, took just under 29 percent of the vote, meaning the socialist’s tally exceeded the required 20 percentage-point lead for an outright win.
The result also marks a return to the left for Bolivia. The present conservative caretaker government stepped in after Evo Morales, who governed for almost 14 years, was ousted last year.
On Monday, Arce’s Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party had already claimed victory in the election held the previous day, and Mesa conceded. Arce served as economy minister during the Morales era and is said to have been handpicked by the former leader, who resigned under pressure last year. However, the president-elect said on Tuesday he saw “no role” in his government for Morales, who still leads MAS from exile in Argentina.
“He will not have any role in our government,” Arce told Reuters. He said that the former leader can return to the country “because he’s Bolivian,” but added that the new president will decide who forms the administration.
The president-elect, who grew up in a middle class La Paz household, oversaw a nationalization program and commodities boom while minister. These policies helped provide funds to lift millions of indigenous Bolivians out of poverty in a period of sustained growth.
However, given the current recession, Arce warned that the government “will have to have austerity measures.”
Speaking on diplomatic ties with the US, which have been severed, Arce said: “If they want to reestablish a relationship with us, the only thing we ask for is that we are respected as equals.”
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