2006 Nicaraguan general election
2006 Nicaraguan presidential election
Right-wing political parties have dominated Nicaraguan
politics since independence in 1838. From the times of the antagonical Democratic
parties, the Liberals and Conservatives have succeeded each other in the government with the exception of the Sandinista
rule from 1979 to 1990.
This two-party system, with two dominant political parties, has survived until our days with the difference that the two rival forces today are the FSLN
and the self-appointed Democratic Forces (anti-Sandinistas).
Electoral reforms in 2000
The electoral reforms introduced in January 2000, as a result of the pact between the PLC
and the FSLN
, established new rules for the contending parties in the elections.
The required percentages to win the Presidential Election was reduced from 45 to 40 percent. The electoral law states that a participating candidate must obtain a relative majority of at least 40 percent of the vote to win a presidential election. However, a candidate may win by obtaining at least 35 percent of the vote, with at least a five percent margin over the second-place finisher. The law also established a second-round runoff election if none of the candidates won in the first round.
In addition, a party could also lose its legal status if it obtains less than 4 percent of the votes in the general elections.
Constitutionalist Liberal Party
, co-founder of the PLC
, and his running mate José Antonio Alvarado
, who were also citizens of Chile
and the United States
, respectively, were prohibited from participating in the 1996 elections by the Supreme Electoral Council
In 1997, under the government of Arnoldo Alemán
was appointed president of the Nicaraguan Institute for Municipal Development
(INIFOM). After the reforms to the Electoral Law in year 2000, part of the pact between the PLC
and the FSLN
was able to contest the 2001 elections where he was elected vice-president, running on the PLC
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance
, a former banker and economist, is the youngest and wealthiest of the five candidates. Like Alvarado
, he held various ministerial portfolios during both the Alemán
administration, including Foreign Minister with Alemán
and Treasury Minister under Bolaños
government. After his expulsion from the PLC
he founded the ALN
together with other dissidents. Montealgre's
adversaries have criticized him for his involvement in the CENI
bond operation – now a substantial part of the domestic debt – after several banks got into financial problems due to fraudulent practices over the course of 1999-2001.
Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista Renovation Movement
Carlos Mejía Godoy
is an internationally known and popular Nicaraguan singer-songwriter who stepped in as the vice-presidential candidate after Lewites
died. Mejía Godoy
is the father of Camilo Mejía
, one of the most famous conscientious objectors to the US war in Iraq.
Contending parties and electoral alliances
Constitutionalist Liberal Party
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance
Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista Renovation Movement
The Sandinista Assembly -FSLN's
highest decision-making body- was held on 26 February in Managua
had announced that he planned a march to the site of the event with his followers in support of his running against Daniel Ortega
for the candidacy. Some 200 meters from the gates of the “Olofito” convention center where the Sandinista Assembly was meeting, they were stopped by a larger pro-Ortega demonstration. For several minutes both bands literally went at each other with fists, stones and even clubs. The police had to intervene, placing themselves between the rival bands. In the Assembly, the official leadership responded by expelling Herty Lewites
and his campaign chief Víctor Hugo Tinoco
from the party.
A few days later, on 6 March, an extraordinary FSLN congress was held in Matagalpa
. The outcome of this congress was the annulment of primary elections and the proclamation of Daniel Ortega as the presidential candidate, successfully blocking Lewites' presidential aspirations. The Sandinista grass roots would no longer be consulted on their choice for presidential candidate through primary elections. As Ortega himself pointed out; "The truth is that primary elections cause a lot of problems due to the enormous erosion and friction they cause among Sandinistas."
Lewites went on to form the Movement for the Rescue of the Sandinismo
who joined the MRS Alliance
to support Lewites as the presidential candidate for the Nicaraguan general election, 2006. The MRS Alliance chose their legislative candidates based on surveys and bilateral contacts with their partners in the MRS Alliance.
In the light of PLC’s
victory in the Atlantic coast elections of March 2006
, the PLC
announced it would not hold primary elections to select its presidential candidate, arguing lack of finances. Instead the 750 party delegates from all over the country would do the selecting at the PLC
National Convention on 2 April. On 22 March, Alemán
suddenly announces a form of primary election with 32 simultaneous conventions in the country’s 16 departments
on 31 March, and the winner would be ratified two days later during the National Convention.
leaders also invited all dissident Liberals outside the PLC
to participate in these primaries, voting for the candidate they consider best able to defeat the FSLN
, then rejoining the fold come what may. José Rizo
won the PLC
The Atlantic coast elections of March 2006
were an opportunity for the parties and candidates competing in the general election to show their strength. The results gave the PLC
a significant victory with 40 seats out of 90 in the Regional Councils. The FSLN
and its ally YATAMA
got 45 seats between them both and the ALN
got the remaining five. The MRS Alliance
didn't pull enough votes to win a seat in the Regional Council.
One of the most important issues of the 2006 elections is the economy. The high external debt and internal debt
have inhibited growth. Around 75% of the population lives on less than US$2 a day, unemployment and underemployment are close to 50%, and income inequality is very pronounced. However, there have been some recent improvements. Real economic growth declined from 7.4% in 1999 to 1% in 2002, then turned around to grow back to 2.3% in 2003, and about 4% in 2004.
Another important issue is the pact established by the PLC
and the FSLN
in 2000 in order to maintain control over key institutions such as the Supreme Court
(CSJ) and the Supreme Electoral Council
(CSE), causing a profound institutional crisis in the Nicaraguan society. Both the two major anti-pact forces (ALN
), and more recently, the PLC
, made public their intentions to dismantle the pact.
Truth is that a "qualified majority" of 2/3 in the National Assembly
is needed to revert the 2000 reforms and this is not likely to happen according to the latest polls.
Abortion becomes a Campaign Issue
In late August, the Sandinista Renovation Movement
(MRS) candidate Edmundo Jarquín
stated that he supported therapeutic abortion when the life of the mother is at risk. Abortion under these circumstances had been legal in Nicaragua
since 1891. Abortion other than therapeutic is punishable by imprisonment from one to three years.
The religious sector condemned Jarquín
's statement, prompting the other four of the five presidential candidates to declare themselves against abortion. The FSLN
, which has an important relationship with former Managua
Archbishop Miguel Obando
, stated in general that they opposed abortion and were pro-life. This was a reversal of traditional Sandinista policy.
On 15 October, President Bolaños
sent to the National Assembly
a draft on a proposed reform of the penal code in order to penalize therapeutic abortion.
The National Assembly passed the law banning therapeutic abortions on 26 October 2006. It is widely expected that the president will sign it. A section of the law raising prison sentences for women undergoing abortions or doctors performing them from up to six years to up to 30 years was not passed.
The U.S. and the Nicaraguan elections
According to the Nicaraguan Electoral Law, the parties are forced to report most donations, but only those received from the date of the official opening of the campaign (19 August) to the day of the elections (5 November). Minor individual donations do not need to be disclosed.
The parties will be refunded after the elections in proportion to the number of votes each of them obtain.
A pre-campaign study carried out by the independent Ethic and Transparency Civic Group
between 1 July and 15 August, showed that the FSLN
was the party that spent more money during that period; C$
came in second with C$
3,153,571 followed by the PLC
2,622,635. The MRS
824,718 and the AC
had the smallest budget with C$
According to the ALN
official, Eliseo Núñez
, the party estimates its budget for the whole campaign in US$6 to 8 million. José Rizo's
budget is also estimated in about $6 million. Edén Pastora
and his AC
will have an austere campaign with a $500,000 budget.
Both the left and the right have made allegations that their political opponents have received funding from the United States
On the other hand, the Sandinista Mayor of Managua, Dionisio Marenco
, negotiated an agreement with the Venezuelan
state oil company PDVSA
that allows Venezuelan oil to be imported directly to Nicaragua with preferential payment conditions. The first shipment of a total of 10 million barrels of oil (equivalent to the total annual demand in Nicaragua
) arrived to the country on October 2005.
Nicaragua is in the middle of an energy crisis with increasing oil prices and a strict energy rationalization policy that leaves hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguan without power supply for several hours a day.
Pre-election poll results
Borge & Asociados - Polls Conducted October 15–222, October 5–121, September 13, and August 5, 2006
October poll sample size is 1,800. The margin of error is 3.2%. 
CID-Gallup - Poll Conducted October, 2006 and August 16 to 19, 2006
The October poll sample size is 5,090. The margin of error is 2%.
August poll sample size is 1,258. Methodology: Telephone interviews. Margin of error is 2.8%.
Map showing the results of the Parliamentary election poll by department
The elections of 90 representatives to the National Assembly
will also be held on November 5. According to the September poll by M & R Consultores
no party will gain enough seats to form a majority.
UCA - Sponsored by END, Canal 10, CNC - October, 2006
Legitimacy of results
The results of the election were recognized by the international community. The Carter Center
, an independent observer sent a 62-member delegation and found "the election administration to be adequate, with improvements over past electoral processes."
Summary of the 5 November 2006 Nicaragua presidential election results
National Deputies (91.6% counted):
Summary of the 5 November 2006 Nicaragua National Assembly election results
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Last edited on 7 April 2021, at 15:50
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