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Evo Morales. Photo: John Duran/Getty Images

Election returns from Bolivia last night showed President Evo Morales falling short of the 10% margin needed to avoid a run-off — until they stopped showing anything at all.

Zoom out: Morales became the Andean nation's first indigenous president in 2006 and has been in power ever since, overseeing solid economic growth and the consolidation of control over institutions and much of the media.

  • A left-wing survivor on a continent that has swung to the right, Morales lost a referendum in 2016 over whether he could even seek a fourth term. But in his telling, he's back on the ballot by popular demand.

"Such has been his influence as president that many people from across the political spectrum describe him as Bolivia’s equivalent to Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — someone who 'refounded' a nation," writes the FT's Andres Schipani, who spent a day with Morales on the campaign trail.

  • "Critics argue that his ego is becoming out of control — reflected in the construction of a new 25-storey presidential palace in La Paz and a museum in his birthplace to honour him."
  • "But he dismisses the idea that a cult of personality has grown up around his presidency. 'I am still a humble man, nothing has changed, you can judge for yourself,' he says."

Zoom in: Morales was leading his main challenger, former president Carlos Mesa, by a 45%-38% margin with 84% of the vote in, per the BBC.

  • Morales continued to insist he'd won a new term outright, leading to fears he planned to use shady means to block a high-risk December run-off.

Go deeper

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

49 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

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