Election Buzzword #1 - Gonismo
“Gonismo” – It’s hard to put your finger on what it actually means, but you better believe that many of the candidates, especially Mr. Evo Morales will be using the term liberally over the next four months.
Fair or not, former and exiled President, Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada is synonymous with the current crisis that Bolivia finds itself. Whether for the capitalization of several key industries or the yet-to-be investigated events in October 2003 where too many Bolivians were killed, Goni is public enemy number one to blame for Bolivia’s ills.
No one wants to be associated with him, even though almost every current politician has some links, i.e. Samuel Doria Medina (ex-MIR), whose party has been allied with both of Goni’s presidencies. Even some in his own party, MNR, want to distance themselves from their current/former party leader (depends on who you ask). If MNR wants to save some face in the December elections, it must show that it is Goni-free.
However, Evo will try his hardest to link the other candidates as collaborators of the former President, by perhaps suggesting that anyone who has ever worked with Goni, been in the same room as Goni, or even shaken hands with Goni, as guilty of having the mark of “Gonismo”.
Now, Gonismo, falls within a time-honored Bolivian political campaign tradition of tarring entire government administrations - a practice that often is interrupted when opponents end up being coalition partners. However, if the target continues being an opponent, the other parties will continue to pound away at the theme, untill the next election cycle, since Bolivian political parties are always campaigning.
Gonismo takes it a bit further, since some in the MNR also partake in the sport, which shows how much of a pariah he has become to some in the country. But, he also retains power behind the scenes in the MNR, and given Bolivia's weird cyclical politics, you can never count him out.
Trashing Goni, a favorite sport in leftist NGO circles as well, of course ignores several facts. The first being that the protests against him, were orchestrated by Evo and other hard-leftists to paralyze the country and to undercut the authority of the presidency. He responded forcefully, and people were killed, but the oppositions role in the crisis is always ignored. Lastly, many of the reforms carried out by Goni, have left positive results for the country. He killed inflation and reduced a large redundant bureaucracy. His creation of hundreds of local municipal bodies, elected directly and funded by monies originally handled by the central administration, did a lot to promote de-centralization, efficiency, local democracy and self-government. But then again, this is Bolivian politics, these things don't matter during this cycle.