Who Is Luis Arce? Bolivia's Socialist Candidate Picked by Evo Morales Claims Election Victory

Luis Arce Catacora appeared to be the winner of Bolivia's latest presidential election, an unofficial count of votes suggested on Monday.

Arce, aged 57, served as an economy minister under former Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was in office for nearly 14 years before resigning last November.

According to one exit poll released around midnight on Sunday, Arce had won 52.4 percent of valid votes, while his closest rival candidate, Carlos Mesa, secured 31.5 percent. The poll conducted by Ciesmori reportedly had a margin of error of less than two percent.

Another exit poll, conducted by a group of universities and Catholic institutions, suggested that Arce had won 53 percent of votes, while Mesa had 30.8 percent.

Jeanine Anez, Bolivia's conservative interim president who took office following the resignation of Morales last year, offered her congratulations to Arce and his vice presidential candidate David Choquehuanca on Twitter.

"We do not yet have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr. Arce and Mr. Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind," she wrote.

Meanwhile, Morales told reporters: "All the data known so far indicate that there has been a victory for the Movement towards Socialism."

Arce played a crucial part in the country's economic decisions when he served as Minister of Economy and Public Finance during Morales' time in office.

In January, he was announced as Morales' pick to be the presidential candidate for the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party. The former president said Arce was the best choice due to his economic expertise.

Arce worked for the Central Bank of Bolivia (BCB) from 1987 to January 2006 before he became Bolivia's economy minister.

Muy agradecidos con el apoyo y confianza del pueblo boliviano. Recuperamos la democracia y retomaremos la estabilidad y la paz social. Unidos, con dignidad y soberanía #VamosASalirAdelante pic.twitter.com/vFO9Mr1o44

— Luis Arce Catacora (Lucho Arce) (@LuchoXBolivia) October 19, 2020

After graduating as an accountant in1984, Arce studied economics at the University of Warwick in England, as well as at Bolivia's Higher University of San Andrés (UMSA).

He has since lectured at several major universities, including Harvard University in Massachusetts, Columbia University in New York and Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

In a tweet Monday, Arce said: "Very grateful for the support and trust of the Bolivian people. We recover democracy and we will regain stability and social peace. United, with dignity and sovereignty.

He also said at a press conference: "We are going to work, and we will resume the process of change without hate. We will learn and we will overcome the mistakes we've made (before) as the Movement Toward Socialism party,"

Luis Arce Catacora Brazilian presidential candidate 2020
Luis Arce Catacora speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 20. The presidential candidate appeared to be the winner of the latest election according to an unofficial count of votes released Sunday night. Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images