Early results from the Nicaraguan general election on November 7 indicate that incumbent President Daniel Ortega has won by a landslide, BBC News reports. The result was unsurprising to many onlookers across the globe, as President Ortega secured nearly 76 percent of the vote, winning his fourth consecutive term in office.
Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla who helped to defeat the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship during the 1970s, claimed the election is a choice between the peace and economic stability he supposedly offers and the conflict, chaos, and terror offered by the opposition, according The Washington Post. The Somoza dictatorship ruled Nicaragua from 1934 to 1979 with the support of Washington before being overthrown by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) during the Sandinista Revolution. Ortega presided over the country for the first time between 1985 and 1990. He returned to power in 2007 and has been in power since then.
Ahead of the election, the Ortega administration spent months mired in controversy, including a widely denounced wave of arrests of opposition leaders and presidential hopefuls. France 24 reports that the Ortega administration detained 40 opposition figures earlier this year, including seven potential presidential candidates, leading the United States government and the European Union to denounce the contest as a sham.
BBC News postulates that from the moment Nicaraguan police placed opposition leader Cristiana Chamorrounder house arrest for alleged money-laundering, it was clear that President Ortega would be re-elected for another five-year term.
Every five years, Nicaraguans vote to elect the president, vice president, and the members of the country’s 92-seat National Assembly, explains Al Jazeera. The newly elected government is expected to take office on January 10. While 4.5 million citizens were eligible to vote, it was unclear just how many citizens actually cast their votes, as many disillusioned groups called for boycotts of the election.
The Associated Press found that only 26 percent of people in Nicaragua believe that their votes are always counted correctly, which is about the same percentage of people who expressed support for the incumbent administration, further fueling speculation of corruption.
Onlookers urged voters to sit this election out via the usage of a popular slogan during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Quedate en Casa,” meaning stay at home, to urge Nicaraguans not to go to the polls and legitimize the oppressive government, as NPR details. A hashtag of #MiCandidatoEstaPreso, meaning my candidate is incarcerated, was pushed on social media.
After the widely denounced election, France 24 detailed U.S. President Joe Biden’s reaction. President Biden slammed the election as a sham, highlighting how the incumbent President Daniel Ortega was assured to win after jailing multiple potential challengers. In the White House Statement on “Nicaragua’s Sham Elections”, President Biden referred to the election as “pantomime,” and mentioned how the election in no way could be seen as free or fair, much less democratic. The statement by the White House discusses how the unpopular Ortega regime, now without a democratic mandate, rule as autocrats, seeing no difference from the Somoza dictatorship that Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew.
A mere three days after the alleged fraudulent election, President Biden signed into law a bill with increased sanctions and miscellaneous other measures against the government of President Daniel Ortega, as Al Jazeera reports. The Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform Act, which was signed into law on Nov. 10, sanctions the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega via restrictions on multilateral bank lending in efforts to target regime corruption. For now, Ortega and his supporters can claim another victory for the will of the “majority,” as Ortega begins yet another five-year term.