Luis Arce, Bolivia’s president-elect amongst supporters

Luis Arce, the president-elect of Bolivia after a landslide election win, has gotten credits for the country’s ”social growth miracle”.

The quiet 57-year-old economist will take over as Bolivia’s president next month.

Arce was often seen as a moderating influence to more radical elements in Morales’ Movement towards Socialism (MAS) party.

He worked as the Economy Minister, steering the country’s economy for over a decade under former leader Evo Morales, an ebullient leftist who resigned last year. Morales resigned after an election dogged by disputed claims of fraud sparked widespread protests.

Meanwhile, the president-elect crafted the economic plan for Morales’ successful 2005 presidential run.

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Unlike Morales, an indigenous Aymara with a background as a union head for coca farmers who became an almost cult figure, Arce grew up in a middle-class La Paz household and is known for being softly spoken and keeping a low personal profile.

A thorough academic, Arce studied economics at Bolivia’s prestigious Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, and then at the University of Warwick in England.

“He is not really a ‘strong man’ sort of character,” said Franklin Pareja, a Bolivian political analyst in La Paz. “He is a person who comes from the academy, from the middle class, he’s a technocrat and not a social warrior or a union leader.”

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That could help Arce heal angry divisions in the country. Many criticize Morales for trying to hold onto power and running in defiance of term limits, though he also retains a strong core of support.

Arce is credited by supporters as the architect of Bolivia’s growth “miracle” in the 2000s that lifted many out of poverty in one of South America’s most impoverished nations.

“I think our model has shown the world that there is a different way to do things and do them successfully,” he said.