Correspondent in Managua
Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo they were the winners of the contest before the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) gave the results. At about 02:00 in the morning of this Monday, the magistrates who are also party members, sealed the victory of the Sandinistas with 74.99%, in a first report. Thus, Ortega guarantees a fourth consecutive presidential term, while Murillo, his wife, a second as vice president. The elections were labeled a “farce” because the regime ordered the imprisonment of seven opposition candidates and more than 30 people, including activists, businessmen and social leaders.
The abstention – made up by the Government with 34.66% – marked the entire day, and is considered as the silent punishment of the Nicaraguans. Although the CSE assures that in the country there was a participation of 65.34% with less than half of the polls scrutinized, the independent observatory Urnas Abiertas yielded a 81.5% abstentionism, one of the highest figures in the entire electoral history of the country. The national media documented the low participation of the population in the voting centers, as well as the presence of party members in each of the points.
Sunday night ended with a sour taste for Nicaraguans suffering from the economic recession and lack of freedom. And another one of timid victory for those who sympathize with the party. The militancy loyal to Commander Ortega left before the CSE said anything. Protected by the National Police and making use of all State resources, a platform was installed in the Plaza de las Victorias, in the center of the capital. The red and black flags and the new songs of the party exploded at midnight, predicting what the whole country knew in advance: Ortega and Murillo were awarded five more years in power, a time that predicts to be difficult despite the absolute control they exercise. Since now, the elections have not been recognized.
The pressures are a reality for the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which has been in the presidency of Nicaragua for 14 consecutive years, and controls every aspect and power of the State. Costa Rica was one of the first countries not to recognize the results of the “electoral farce.” President Carlos Alvarado announced at 8:26 p.m., without the results being released yet, that his country would not recognize the election. “Costa Rica calls on the international community to foster, among all parties in Nicaragua, spaces for dialogue and negotiation that allow the reestablishment of democracy for the benefit of the Nicaraguan people,” the statement said.
What will the Nicaraguan opposition do?
Opponents go through a defining test. The two main blocks of the country (the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White National Unity) they released two separate communiqués in which they stressed the illegitimacy of the electoral process. Almost the entire leadership is imprisoned, outside the country or in hiding due to the massive arrests that the Government carried out against them, even on the eve of the process.
The National Unity ignored the results of Sunday in an online press conference, with all its leaders exiled. “As we warned, Daniel Ortega has declared himself the winner and intends to stay in power for a fourth term, accompanied by his wife Rosario Murillo, distributing among his own and the satellite parties in the National Assembly,” said the group, referring to the five parties that participated in the process and that son crossed out as «collaborators». The rulers ordered the arrest of several activists within this movement, including Felix maradiaga, your presidential candidate. The also political scientist was arrested on June 8 in the capital. He is accused of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” along with his fellow opponents.
The Civic Alliance, another bloc that has been hit by the repression, said in another statement that the process “did not meet international standards of electoral quality. The Nicaraguan Political Constitution and Electoral Law were violated, as well as international conventions on human rights signed by the State. The National Police has also imprisoned several members of this group, including the presidential candidate Juan Sebastián Chamorro and José Adán Aguerri, former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise – the largest employer in the country.
The opponents have not made it clear what the strategy to follow will be, but many call for new efforts to unity in exile. The differences between them were, for some analysts, the reasons that strengthened the Sandinistas in the election year. All attempts to establish an alliance to confront Ortega were unsuccessful due to the ideological differences between the two groups. Excessive confidence persists in the atmosphere that the recent efforts of the international community will put pressure on the regime, until it cedes to negotiate a way out of the crisis. However, so far there is no indication that the strategy will work without pressure within the country.