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Nicaragua: the once and future President

Friday, October 7, 2016


This looks like a bad year for opinion pollsters, who by wide margins failed to predict the outcome of Colombia’s peace referendum, as well as Britain’s Brexit vote.

But polls, which since early this year have predicted an easy victory for Daniel Ortega in next month’s Nicaraguan presidential elections, will almost certainly be proven accurate, especially since the country’s supreme court recently declared the main opposition candidate ineligible.

Ortega is bidding for a third consecutive term, in this case on a joint ticket with his wife, Rosario Murillo.

In addition, the Sandinista leader served as President between 1985 and 1990, and led the revolutionary junta that ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1985.

With its extensive control over the legisltature and judiciary, Ortega’s Sandinista party is reminiscent of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in Spanish initials), which for seven decades governed Mexico, essentially under a one-party system.

Like the PRI, the Sandinistas profess a socialist agenda, while ensuring that competitive institutions such as trade unions are largely neutered.

But while during the most of the past century few Mexicans doubted that a PRI candidate would become President, no single individual had more than six more years in office.

Ortega’s power is much more personal, especially since a tame Congress in 2014 eliminated any limit on the right of a President to be re elected.

At this point, it seems that the only opponent who could stop him is time.

The once and likey future President - assuming polls are right – will be 71 when he starts a new term.

On the other hand, Murillo is only 65.