Social movements in a split: Bolivia???s protesters after their triumph


Ton Salman

This article takes Bolivia as a case in point to reflect upon the dilemmas and challenges that social movements find themselves confronted with once they, and in particular the party/movement coalition representing their grievances and demands, win power. The point to be made is that a fissure between the governing faction or party of the victorious movements and the remaining constituting movements is inevitable, not so much because of “moderation” of the former, but because governing responsibility will make this faction or party abandon its movement characteristics. After some brief theoretical explorations, the process of constructing the movements and the candidacy of left-wing indigenous President Evo Morales and his MAS party is addressed. The subsequent section presents a discussion of the new challenges faced by MAS after it assumed power, and the doubts, actions, and new “status” of the social movements that back MAS under the current administration. The point is made that a drifting apart inevitably occurred between MAS as governing party and the social movements behind it, because governing is accompanied by obligations that the movements can afford to disregard. The article ends with a discussion of the issues raised in it.

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