The (not surprising) election results

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Sunday
(election day)

– there was a polling location at the end of our street, but besides a bit of increased traffic, it seemed like any other normal day.

– we went to church like normal. Some church members arrived with their “dedos manchados” (fingers inked) to indicate they had already cast their votes

To make sure people knew how to vote, sample ballots were plastered everywhere, even on a trash cart.

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Sunday evening

– polls closed at 6pm across the country. Pretty immediately fireworks started going off to celebrate the FSLN victory.

– we kept our eyes on Twitter newsfeeds, following #nicaragua and looking at La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario for updates

– we stayed up to hear the first official vote count which was read around 11pm. With only 6% of the votes in, Ortega appeared to be winning by a landslide.

Monday
(National holiday to celebrate victory for the Sandinistas)

– news in the morning was only showing 38% of the votes counted. We are wondering how this process could be so slow!!

– receive word of a protest of the opposition groups at 3pm. Nothing ended up happening…

– by the evening, the official winner was announced. Here are the final numbers:

Daniel Ortega (FSLN) 62.65%
Fabio Gadea (PLI) 30.96%
3 other guys whose votes make up the rest <10%

– we went out to the rotonda (traffic circle) where there was music playing and Sandinista supporters waving flags

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Our reaction

– First of all, we were relieved to hear that the elections were peaceful for the most part.

– There are many accounts of fraud that will take weeks, if not months to sort through.

– Happiness because on the one hand it seems like the Sandinista government has done good things for the country, especially the poor, but skepticism on the other hand because most of the programs are only hand-outs that don’t address structural problems. Will the social programs continue, or was that just a ploy for re-election?

– Sadness because Daniel made a mockery of the constitution to make himself elegible for reelection.

– What kind of new laws and constitutional changes will the FSLN make now that they have a super-majority in Congress?

– What will happen if/when Chavez dies?

Further reading:

Economist: “The Survivor”

Aljazeera article: “Nicaragua’s Ortega: Socialism to Opportunism?”

NPR: “Amid Reports of Irregularities, Nicaragua’s Ortega Poised for a Landslide”

Envío (Nicaraguan bi-lingual scholarly publication): “Last Minute Pre-election Fears, Questions and Warning Signs” 

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