Nicaragua’s Ortega wins third straight term, with wife
REUTERS photoNicaragua’s leftist President Daniel Ortega has won a third straight term, with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice president, results showed Nov. 7, but the opposition and the United States condemned the election.
With 99.8 percent of ballots counted, the 70-year-old former Marxist rebel had 72.5 percent of the vote, the country’s Supreme Electoral Council said, AFP reported.
His nearest competitor, Maximino Rodriguez of the right-leaning Liberal Constitutionalist Party, had just 15 percent.
Ortega, who has ruled Nicaragua for 20 of the past 37 years, has been accused of using the courts to limit the power of the opposition.
His opponents branded the election a “farce” - a criticism echoed by the United States, which said the “flawed” process had made free and fair polls impossible.
“The Nicaraguan government sidelined opposition candidates for president, limited domestic observation at the polls... and took other actions to deny democratic space,” U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
“The decision by the Nicaraguan government not to invite independent international electoral observers further degraded the legitimacy of the election.”
There was mixed reaction in Latin America.
Ortega received congratulations from several countries, including not only leftist allies in Cuba, Venezuela and El Salvador but also the government of Mexico.
However, President Luis Guillermo Solis of neighboring Costa Rica criticized the lack of international observers and real opposition.
As Ortega’s opponents had urged Nicaraguans to boycott the Nov. 6 vote, all eyes were on turnout.
Electoral officials said 68.2 percent of voters cast ballots. The opposition gave a wildly different estimate: under 30 percent.
“We don’t recognize the results of this farce,” Violeta Granera, head of one of the opposition parties, the Broad Front of Democracy, told reporters before the tally.
The opposition demanded new elections with international observers present.
Government and electoral officials described the vote as a great exercise in democracy, conducted in “calm” - despite the torching of one rural polling station.
“It’s a vote for peace, for the security of the Nicaraguan people,” Ortega said after casting his ballot.
By his side, Murillo - a poet and longtime government spokeswoman - said the polling was “exemplary.”
Ortega has strong support from Nicaragua’s poor.
They account for more than a third of the population and have benefited from his social programs.
Ortega’s supporters poured into the streets to celebrate, honking their car horns and waving white and blue Nicaraguan flags.