December 6, 2009 / 1:52 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 3-Bolivia's Morales re-elected - exit polls, quick count

(For full coverage, click on [nBOLIVIA])

* Exit polls show Morales has at least 61 percent of vote

* Closest rival, Reyes Villa, seen with 23 percent

* Morales wants to deepen reforms in second term (Updates with exit polls, quick count)

By Eduardo Garcia and Kevin Gray

LA PAZ, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales easily won re-election on Sunday, three television exit polls showed.

Morales received at least 61 percent of the vote, according to exit polls released by the private TV channels ATB, Uno and PAT. His closest rival, rightist former governor Manfredo Reyes Villa, had about 23 percent of votes.

Morales, whose socialist economic policies and increased social welfare have made him broadly popular with Bolivia’s poor but angered business leaders, is expected to use a second term to expand state control over the economy.

A victory by Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, would solidify his dominance over Bolivian politics and further weaken a divided conservative opposition tied to the country’s business elite.

His Movement Toward Socialism party is also expected to win control of Congress in Sunday’s election.

In his first term, Morales nationalized the energy industry, and the state took over mining and telecommunications companies, generating a windfall he has used to boost social spending.

Morales needs to garner more than 50 percent to avoid a second round and can also win if he takes 40 percent and holds a 10-point lead. (Editing by Kieran Murray)

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