Daniel Ortega (yes that Ortega from the Sandanista/civil war/iran-contra/etc. of the 70s and 80s fame) has been president here for the last five years. He won five years ago because of corruption and lack of unity on the “Democracy” party’s side. Nothing has changed and some of the “Democracy” politicians who caused the problems are still pulling sway. That coupled with Ortega behaving semi-decently has led most to believe he will be reelected.
The problem. According to Nicaragua’s constitution you can only serve one consecutive term. Basically you have to sit out a term but you can run again later down the road. Ortega is ignoring that law, much like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela did there in the past decade. He is running for president again. He is expected to win.
Also like Chavez, Ortega has taken control of media and is funding his candidacy with tax dollars. He has huge billboards all over with his face on it. He puts his party emblem on every government building and government worker’s shirt and stationary. He has done lots of projects for people as well, building houses, giving out tin, pigs, chickens, as well as having a free carnival for kids downtown. He has gained favor with more than his typical 30% block of Sandanista voters.
There is still the possibility that all opposed to Ortega unite behind one of the various Democracy candidates. But most people I talk to say even if we did, he would steal the elections like he did in the 2008 midterms so he could control the legislature.
There is also the possibility of violence on the streets in Managua which has accompanied past elections.
It is an interesting moment in Nicaraguan history. Our hope is that even if Ortega wins he will continue to do well, and that his first five years weren’t just to gain favor so he can gain more control and then do as he pleases.
Elections are tomorrow. Pray for God’s presence to be over the elections. Pray that God will help us to trust him no matter what happens.