Nicaragua. In the municipal elections held on November 4,
the ruling party won the Sandinista Front for National
Liberation (FSLN) big. No less than 134 of Nicaragua's 153
mayoral positions are now held by the party, including the
capital Managua and all 17 provincial capitals except one.
The victory in Managua was devastating; FSLN candidate Daysi
Torres won no less than 83% of the vote, and in León the
victory was even greater, 87%. In total, FSLN received 75%
of all votes cast in the municipal elections.
As has been the case on a regular basis since President
Daniel Ortega came to power in 2007, the elections were
filled with allegations of electoral fraud by both the
domestic opposition and the United States, with violence,
riots and demonstrations as a result and political concerns
over the credibility of the election process. In the
Matagalp province, clashes between protesters and police led
to deaths. According to
countryaah, the police's actions were also criticized by the
opposition as a reflection of the fact that the FSLN has
dominated the judiciary and the Electoral Commission since
the 1980s. However, there was never any mention of
international reprisals, such as after the 2008 election,
when the US and the EU suspended aid to Nicaragua pending
investigations into electoral fraud.
In early June, President Ortega announced plans to revive
the more than 100-year-old idea of creating a water link
between the Caribbean and the Pacific. The project would
involve the construction of a canal from Lake Nicaragua to
the west, but also that the San Juan River would become an
important sea route to the east, creating concern in
neighboring Costa Rica, with which Nicaragua has a border
dispute in the area. In early July, Congress approved the
project, which is estimated to cost $ 30 billion.
In the 2006 election campaign, Ortega addressed a wider
section of the population than before. Revolutionary anti-US
rhetoric was toned down and Catholic values made
important, and with the victory of Liberals Eduardo
Montealegre in the 2006 presidential election, the FSLN and
Ortega returned to the government offices. The minority
government made serious compromises, including with the
conservative part of the Catholic Church. Shortly after the
2007 takeover, a total ban on abortion was introduced.
The Sandinists attempted to reverse the effects of the
1990s and 2000s liberalist policies, which proved difficult.
Events such as hurricanes, floods and financial crises put
further constraints on the government's room for maneuver.
The government agreed to change the focus of trade and
foreign policy from the United States to Venezuela.
According to FSLN's electoral victory, Nicaragua became more
strongly linked to Venezuela and the rest of the ALBA
countries, both economically and politically. This
cooperation materialized in economic agreements between the
countries (especially in the oil and energy sector), and the
ALBA countries have on several occasions collaborated on
foreign policy matters in the UN, the OAS and other
Compromises, hardships and crises did not seem to weaken
the government. The local elections in the autumn of 2008
gave the Sandinist regime for approx. 2/3 of the country's
municipalities; including Managua and Leon. This election
was highly debated and the opposition, local and
international election observers, national and international
press came up with strong allegations of electoral fraud.
The controversy surrounding local elections led to the
cessation of aid from, among others, the US, the EU and some
other countries, such as Norway.
In recent decades, Nicaraguan politics has been
characterized by corruption and corruption charges. Arnoldo
Alemán, who was president from 1996-2001, was convicted of
grievous corruption after he resigned as president and
received a sentence of 20 years unconditional imprisonment.
This verdict has been downgraded on several occasions,
through political negotiations, and Alemán was released in
February 2009; formally acquitted of all charges.
The 2011 election
In 2011, Daniel Ortega was re-elected president, in a
highly contested election. Article 147 of the 1995
Constitution stated that the incumbent president could not
stand for re-election, but in October 2009, the Nicaraguan
Supreme Court ruled that this article was no longer
applicable. The political opposition, national and
international press claimed that this Supreme Court decision
was made after pressure from Ortega and was illegal.
The Sandinist leadership is accused of a failure to
distinguish between the state apparatus and the party. The
paper states Nicaragua state power is divided into three
independent institutions, the legislative, the executive and
the judiciary, but according to the opposition, national and
international press, the independence of these institutions
is non-existent, and it is claimed that it is the FSLN
leadership with Ortega at the forefront, which largely
determines the decisions of all three institutions.
Contested channel project
In December 2014, Ortega took the first spade in a
controversial channel project to link the Atlantic to the
Pacific. The planned channel must be 259.4 km long and be a
competitor to the Panama Canal. The channel project is
heavily debated because of the intervention in the local
environment. Land expropriation has already been announced,
and one is discussing potential environmental damage.
The project has also been debated due to a lack of
transparency about the economy. The Sandinist government
presents this as a prestige project aimed at improving
Nicaragua's economic situation, while opposition politicians
and large parts of the national and international press
argue that this is a project that will be devastating for
Nicaragua's further development. Many also ask questions
about the project's implementation possibilities.