Nicaragua's Ortega wins landslide re-election

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a socialist former guerrilla leader, won a landslide re-election victory.

Ortega had 62.7 percent of the vote with returns in from 86 percent of polling stations in Sunday’s presidential election over conservative radio personality Fabio Gadea.

Ortega has been criticized for first changing the constitution to allow him to run for a third term, and then for lack of transparency in the apparent election victory.

Ortega’s Third Term Unconstitutional?

photo credit jorgemejilla http://www.flickr.com/photos/mejiaperalta/

Daniel Ortega Presidente 2011

The Nicaragua constitution forbids a person from serving as president more than twice, and from succeeding himself or herself. Ortega was ineligible on both counts. But since his second election as president in 2007 (after an earlier stint 1984-90) Ortega succeeded in placing supporters in key posts on the courts and electoral bodies. Last year the Nicaraguan Supreme Court, at Ortega’s behest, ruled that term limits were unconstitutional, clearing the way for the 66-year-old to run again.

2011 Nicaragua Election Transparency

Here’s how the international observer from the European Union characterized the the voting process in a press conference, according to La Prensa:

Even though the presidential elections were civil, they lacked transparency, the European Union’s mission chief Luis Yáñez said. Yáñez said he did not understand why the Supreme Electoral Council put so many “roadblocks, so much opacity, and so many traps in a process that should have been clean and transparent.”

A report by Transparency International and El Grupo Civico Etica y Transparencia concluded

“Gross and systematic violations. Based on the above conclude that the electoral process does not meet the minimum universal requirements”

The Wall Street Journal reports on where this leaves us today:

Mr. Ortega didn’t immediately claim victory. But his close ally, Venezuela’s populist President Hugo Chávez, quickly sent Mr. Ortega his congratulations from Caracas and pledged to continue working closely with the Nicaraguan leader.

In a communiqué issued in Mr. Chávez’s name, the Venezuelan government called Mr. Ortega a great leader in their common cause. “The Bolivarian revolution will continue working next to the popular, Christian, allied and socialist Sandinista revolution,” the communiqué said.

Since 2008, Mr. Ortega has benefited from about $500 million a year in aid—about 7% of Nicaragua’s gross domestic product—given to his government by Venezuela, according to the Nicaraguan Central Bank.

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