Bolivia: From Plurinational Constitutionalism to Liberal Democratic Polity

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About the Author

Sonal Gupta is currently studying law in Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.


The role of federalism in the nation-state leads to the building of liberal democratic citizenship. As it is believed that the political theories including pluralism, federalism, liberalism have been traditionally recognized in building a multicultural framework of the Constitution leading to the formation of the democratic polity from a Plurinational state. So, would it be correct to proclaim that, “The Plurinational States” has justified their exercise of the right to secession against President Morales in forming a new constitutional framework?  I view that the Plurinational State of Bolivia has vindicated its right to secession by evolving a plural, liberal constitutional framework that has to strengthen the theories of federalism, political and cultural pluralism, and liberal democracy in Bolivia.

Although Requejo noted the federal structure of the United States through an empirical study conducted in the 18th Century by James Madison in his Federalist Papers, which resulted in the negative curve in accommodating Plurinational Democracies through federal formulae. But, Burgess and Gagnon in their book connoted that, in the current growing world the advancement of the framework of federalism and the Constitutionalization of a right of secession is now, developing the liberal political ideology and democracy which is foreseen as a ‘suitable and stable’ for Plurinational democracies. The exercise of the right of secession by the Plurinational State of Bolivia and forming a new constitution and harmonizing a federal structure has been justified and is (un)ethically ethical in providing new governance to their indigenous natives.

History of Bolivian Democracy

The Bolivian history of democracy was discriminatory as revealed by GarcíaLinera that approximately 2-3% of Bolivia had the “factual right to vote” in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. The explicit pages of homogenous regulations in Bolivia encapsulated the concept of “equal treatment for all” which was also reinstated in the chronicles of American States as it delivers the lecture of unequal treatment amongst citizens.

Moreover, the cultural and religious pluralism was famine and the drafted framework remains unchallenged. Detrimental to the enriched draft of the social rights of the Bolivian Citizens, there was the sustenance of a gulf in the correlation between state and civil society concerning inequality. Later, Tapia in her article stated that in the late 19th Century the indigenous-campesino organizations turned out to be the “driving forces”, arduous towards the social derange in Bolivia which raised a  question of the need for transformation in Bolivian Constitutionalism leading to liberal democratic structure.

Aberrantly, the rights of native Bolivians were sustainably in existence as there exists a “multicultural system” in Bolivia but, at the state level. Withal, the largely recognized system of homogeneity was conquering in the State.

The New Bolivian Model of Democracy

Sustein termed the new model of Democracy as a “transformative Constitution” in endeavoring the revamp of homogenous polity in the Plurinational State. It illustrates new governance, the new economy model and importantly guaranteeing the involvement of citizens in Democracy.  The new constitution model persisted the pantomime of democratic constitutionalism, leading to Bolivia’s transnational change in reliving from homogeneity. Article 11 under the new Bolivian Constitution narrates the principles of democracy to be “participative, representative and communitarian”. The formation of the liberal democratic polity from Plurinational State views to improving the participation of citizens, accrual to the marginalized with an addendum of cultural and political pluralism.  

The conformation of ‘novel the framework is the result of the strenuous struggles of the indigenous Bolivian population against the flourishment of the Plurinational system which routed to the framework of ‘New Constitution’ precisely a “multicultural constitution” to indurate the governance, and demolish the norms of “equal treatment for all”. The new formation endowed the state with the powers to regulate their democratic polity, social inclusion of citizens, and formation of their legislations; likewise, the State also guaranteed social and civil rights, cultural and political pluralism, participation in democracy, and enhanced human rights to the natives. Additionally, Gargarella succinctly wrote that the new constitution has also developed and enhanced the executive powers in the State. 


To conclude, I view to say that the Secession of Bolivia from Morales pivoted their muscle in struggling to form a new model of democracy. The new constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia improvises in providing the rights of the indigenous Bolivians and surmounts the inadequacy of the Latin American concept of inequality and exclusion of diversity.  The new Bolivian Model shows similarities with the prevalent new democratic constitutionalism in the states of Ecuador and Venezuela. Thus, the Bolivian model has justified its secession from Morales by forming a transformative Constitution which empowers “pluralist civil society” and participation in democracy.

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