Nicaragua. According to Countryaah official site, the November 6 presidential election won the seat of incumbent President Daniel Ortega with 62% of the vote. At the same time, his party FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional) won 62 of the 92 seats in the National Assembly, an increase of 24 seats which gave the party the two-thirds majority needed for e.g. change the constitution.
Both observers from the EU and the US cooperative organization OAS had some remarks on the election process, including: delayed accreditations for election observers, voter card problems and ballot checks. But at the same time, the observers felt that the elections were largely right.
However, the domestic opposition accused the government of extensive electoral fraud. They pointed out, among other things. that Ortega and FSLN control both the Election Commission and the Supreme Court, and on several irregularities in the authorities’ actions. Ortega was also accused of a large measure of populism through the poverty reduction program, Hambre Cero (‘Zero Hunger’), which was just launched into the election campaign with contributions from his friend Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez and where part of the money was used by the FSLN for campaign funding. For example, the campaign for Ortega’s re-election cost four times more than his closest rival Fabio Gadea’s campaign. The domestic business community, which until now has given Ortega its silent support, cautiously expressed its criticism.
All in all, Ortega’s victory in the November 6 elections only increased the massive criticism he has faced in recent years for several measures that are considered to give him a powerful position, and the electoral victory was even called illegal. Ortega, for its part, accused the OAS of going to US cases. The United States government, in turn, expressed concern about the democratic development of Nicaragua and the rule of law in the country.
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro’s electoral victory in the 1989 presidential election represented a new era in Nicaragua’s history. Chamorro led the United National Opposition (UNO), which consisted of 13 different political parties. In April 1990, she took over the presidency of a country marked by civil war and a shaky economy. After the takeover, Chamorro’s government went to great lengths to satisfy the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which were quick to support the transformation of Nicaraguan society.
Chamorro’s government reversed land reform that had led many landless peasants to land ownership, and many nationalized properties were returned to the original owners. Exiled Nicaraguans, especially in the United States, were given good conditions to return with the hope that these would provide much-needed capital to the country. The social sector based on free health care and education suffered from adjustment to privatization and the payment of deductibles, which excluded a large proportion of the poor population from these services.
The new government was revivalist and supported by opposition from a population that had become accustomed to political involvement during the Revolutionary years. The UNO coalition was to be a very heterogeneous composition, and FSLN retained much of the initiative in the National Assembly, where it was still by far the largest and most unified party.
The challenges for the new government were great. The economy suffered from hyperinflation and an overweight state administration; in addition, during the short transition period between the election and the establishment of the new government in 1990, the Sandinists had distributed large parts of state property among themselves. Army and police were still under Sandinist influence, and the countryside was still characterized by a large number of contras. At the same time, the army was to be greatly reduced, and the Sandinist police state would be transformed into a national police force.
General Humberto Ortega, who was commander-in-chief of the army, went into full cooperation with the new government, and in two years the army was reduced from about 100,000 to 15,000. the fact that several contras would not interfere with the terms of disarmament led to a very confusing situation in the countryside with armed actions to put pressure on the government.
Chamorro was not a vigorous president, and it was mainly her son-in-law, the government’s chief of staff Antonio Lacayo, who ruled the country. In 1991, a currency reform was introduced which managed to curb runaway inflation at the expense of a very high price level and low wages. The adjustments to the IMF’s requirements led to an unemployment rate of about 60 percent. Almost all creditors signed foreign debt cancellation agreements, which were large after arms imports during the war in the 1980s. Nicaragua maintained a significant level of aid that provided the country with more capital than export revenues.