LA PAZ, Bolivia — Adalid Zelada fully supported Evo Morales when Bolivia chose him as the country’s first Indigenous president in 2005.

The way many saw it, large numbers of Bolivians were painfully poor, society was deeply unequal and power was overwhelmingly concentrated among the white elite. Mr. Morales, a socialist and former llama herder, spoke of equality, ending discrimination and recovering the nation’s resources from foreign hands.

“They were very good ideas,” said Mr. Zelada, 47. “But over time, it all became an authoritarian strategy to co-opt power. And those good ideas became just words.”

As Bolivians went to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president, the election was widely viewed as a referendum on the 14-year political project of Mr. Morales, a towering figure in Bolivian politics who lifted hundreds of thousands out of poverty but whose policies and rhetoric often divided the country.

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He fled Bolivia last year after his attempt to win a fourth term ended in a contested election and deadly protests. Mr. Morales called it a coup. Others accused his government of trying to rig the vote.