Elections in Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega is predictable favorite to obtain a new mandate

Nicaraguans voted this Sunday in an election with a predictable victory for President Daniel Ortega to assume a new mandate after 14 years in power, without much competition and with several prisoner opposition candidates. In this way, Daniel Ortega was preparing to ratify another five years as president at the head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) together with his wife Rosario Murillo, a candidate for the vice presidency for the second time. Since 2014, By a decision of the Parliament endorsed by justice, there is no limit on the number of presidential terms.

The 13,459 authorized polls closed at 9:00 p.m. in Argentina, after eleven hours of voting. According to the Supreme Electoral Council of Nicaragua (CSE), whose website was down throughout the day, there will be results only in the early hours of Monday. However the American president Joe biden came out to qualify for the elections of “farce” and threatened to take “diplomatic and economic” measures. The day was guarded by some 30 thousand soldiers and policemen and passed without major incidents, with the opposition claiming a huge abstentionism and the ruling party a large participation.

Ortega, who ruled in the 1980s after the FSLN guerrillas overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, faced five candidates unknown to most Nicaraguans.. Some 4.4 million voters were called to the polls to also elect 90 deputies for the National Assembly and 20 for the Central American Parliament. The elections are held three and a half years after protests that demanded Ortega’s resignation and whose repression left some 320 dead, more than 150 protesters still in prison and more than 100,000 exiles.

After casting the vote with his wife and vice president, Ortega offered a television and radio message in which he attacked the opponents in prison and in exile, as well as the protests that broke out against his government in April 2018. “We are carrying out these elections and sure to continue in this battle, which is a historic battle where you have to decide on terrorism, confrontation, war or peace“, assured the president from the House of the Peoples.

To vote or not to vote was the question

The opposition excluded from participating in the elections, the Nicaraguans in exile and the AsociaciĆ³n Madres de Abril, which brings together relatives of the victims of the social outbreak of 2018, They launched campaigns advising against voting under the argument that doing so would legitimize the Ortega-Murillo clan. Opponents used the hashtags #YoNoBotoMiVoto, #YoNoVoto or #NicaraguaNoVota, among others, with which they urged Nicaraguans not to leave their homes, keep the doors closed and the streets empty, because they consider the process to be a “farce” .

“The people rule and chose not to leave their house. Because here nobody gives up!”the opposition organization tweeted on Sunday Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, who shared photos of empty streets in different parts of the country. Those images contrasted with the words of the president of the Supreme Electoral Council, Brenda Rocha, who affirmed that the turnout exceeded three million voters and the elections were taking place in a calm environment. Videos that showed full voting centers were also circulating on the networks, while the president of the National Assembly, the ruling party Gustavo Porras placeholder image, highlighted a “massive assistance” that “gives a mask” to “those who reject democracy”.

There is the vote, the vote does not kill anyone, the vote does not cause any injury to any person, the vote does not call for terrorism, war, never, the vote does not call for roadblocks in the homeland and for the economy to be paralyzed, and for families to be destroyed, the vote does not call for public torture, “Ortega said to the In his message, the president recalled the violent scenes of the 2018 anti-government demonstrations and insisted on blaming the United States, a country that he thanked minutes later for donating vaccines against covid-19.

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Ortega resorted to the seizure of the US Capitol last January to defend the electoral process in Nicaragua. “There in the United States that process is open, and they have as much right to open processes against terrorists, as Nicaraguans have the right to open processes against terrorists, because they were conspiring, because they did not want these elections to be held that have been held on today, “he insisted.

In an unusual practice, the president made his call to vote in the middle of election day. The opposition Blue and White National Unit accused Ortega of violating the Electoral Law by trying to influence the voters’ decision.

A lackluster and controversial campaign

The voting day was preceded by a tenuous campaign, barely nuanced by few notices in the media and very few public events by the candidates, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Electoral Council only authorized acts of no more than 200 people and with a maximum duration of 90 minutes. In fact, the main squares of Managua were in the last weeks full of Christmas decorations and without posters or parades with campaign promises.

The vote is also the end of a process that is questioned, both nationally and internationally, after the arrest of seven presidential candidates, the prohibition of three parties from participating and the cancellation of a score of NGOs. Based on laws passed in late 2020, The recent detainees are accused of undermining sovereignty, promoting international sanctions, “treason” or “money laundering.”, as is the case of the favorite opposition candidate, Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former President Violeta Barrios (1990-1997) and who is under house arrest.

The day after

Although no country called to ignore the results, the day after the elections represents a real unknown because the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and the United States denounced the situation of imprisoned opponents and a manipulation of the Electoral Council. The government responded by rejecting electoral observers from those countries or regional blocs.

The American President, Joe biden, whose country, like the European Union, sanctioned Ortega’s inner circle, will sign an arsenal of measures under the Renacer Law to increase pressure on the Ortega government. Biden assured this Sunday, according to a statement from the White House, that it was a “Pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and certainly undemocratic.”

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada responded that the Ortega government is not afraid that the international community will ignore the electoral results and assured that it will not be intimidated. On his side the deputy Dmitry Novikov, number two of the Communist Party of Russia and part of the delegation sent to Nicaragua to relieve the elections, he criticized the “political voices” that already assured “that they would not recognize” the result of the elections. ” when these had not been carried out. Novikov stressed that his delegation abides “by the principle of non-interference” in the internal affairs of “an independent and sovereign country.”

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