LA PAZ, March 30 (Reuters) - President Evo Morales’ Bolivian governing party suffered heavy losses in regional and mayoral elections on Sunday, ceding capital La Paz and others to the opposition, according to IPSOS exit polls published by television channel ATB.
Opposition candidate Felix Patzi had secured around 52 percent of the vote for the governor’s office in La Paz, versus about 29 percent for Felipa Quispe, the candidate for Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, the polls showed.
Former coca grower Morales was re-elected as the Andean country’s leader in a landslide win in October, but his party does not share his popularity and he has no clear anointed successor.
Patzi, an indigenous Aymara like Morales, said on Sunday he would do more to help the growing middle-class of mestizos - people of mixed Spanish and indigenous origin.
“This is a signal for the region and the country,” he said at a press conference.
Vote counting continued on Monday and official results were expected later in the day.
MAS kept control of some other important governerships, including Cochabamba and Oruro, while the opposition retained affluent Santa Cruz, the polls showed.
In the concurrent mayoral elections, the opposition won in most of Bolivia’s key cities, wresting control of fast-growing El Alto and Cochabamba, as well as retaining La Paz and Santa Cruz.
Reporting by Daniel Ramos, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien Editing by W Simon