Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nicaragua's presidential election

The survivor

Buoyed by a growing economy and Venezuelan cash, the Sandinista leader who toppled a dictator is set to win an unconstitutional third term

SPORTING sunglasses and military fatigues, Daniel Ortega’s portrait graced thousands of student-bedroom walls in the 1980s. His Sandinista guerrillas overthrew Anastasio Somoza, whose family had run Nicaragua as a private fief for four decades until 1979, and inspired even more support when the United States began an unsuccessful covert war to remove them. Mr Ortega lost power in the country’s first-ever free election in 1990, but was voted back into office in 2006. On November 6th he is likely to win another five-year term.

The world’s romance with his Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) has soured. Whereas Mr Ortega was once a symbol of victory over tyranny, he is now a cheat. Local elections in 2008 saw vast fraud, with the FSLN wrongly awarded some 40 mayoralties. Foreign donors suspended over $100m in protest. This year the signs are ominous. Voting cards have not been delivered in some areas, and accreditation of opposition parties’ agents has been slow. The government has admitted a few EU election monitors, but no independent domestic observers.

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