Elections and Events 2000-2004

2000

Central America report 28 January 2000: Discusses the president’s proposed constituent assembly, the electoral reforms being debated in congress, and the issues involved (pages 7-8).

Hoyt 2004: Describes efforts of political parties other than the PLC and FSLN to register and secure official recognition (pages 36-37).

Isbester 2001: “Of the seven parties who tried to register to vote, only the Liberal Party was able to do so officially, although the FSLN later was also allowed. Both the well-established party, the Yatama Party, which represents the Misquito Indians, and the newer National Unity Coalition were denied the right to register. There was no adequate reason given for this denial, as both groups fulfilled the requirements of El Pacto” (page 211).

Millett 2000: “Additional [constitutional] amendments, approved by the legislature at the start of 2000, reduced the role of smaller parties” (page 461).

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “For the first few months of 2000, Alemán obstinately clung to the idea of holding municipal and general elections at the same time and turning the latter into elections for a constituent assembly. Pressure from the international community, however, ensured respect for the electoral calendar: municipal elections would be held in November 2000 and presidential and legislative elections in November 2001” (page 35).

Téllez 2004: “The Convergence started with a rapprochement between the Christian Democrats and the FSLN around the municipal elections in 2000. This included certain negotiations over posts and some programmatic negotiation” (page 10).

Walker 2000: “The increasingly weak position of both Alemán and Ortega would lead in turn to a strange series of pacted agreements between the two arch enemies. Whereas the agreement on the 1997 property law could be seen as serving a national good, it would be hard to defend subsequent deals between the two caudillos in such terms. While publicly attacking each other in the most visceral terms, Alemán and Ortega now made deals that simply served their own or their party’s narrow interest” (page 84).

Zub K. 2002: “En el escenario que precedió las elecciones municipales de noviembre del 2000, surgió el Movimiento de Unidad Cristiana (MUC)” (pages 113-114). “Bajo el liderazgo de Duarte, los ex deputados del CCN Saravia y Castillo y otros, en el 2000 fue creado el [MUC]” (pages 114-115). “El MUC presentó las firmas que requiere el [CSE] para su inscripción…El MUC, a pesar de haber tenido el apoyo del FSLN en su gestión jurídica, no obtuvo su personeria debido a un presunto pacto entre CCN-PLC…(E)l PLC bloqueó la eventual competencia que significaría el MUC para el CCN siendo que ambas se disputarían la población evangélica de Managua” (page 116).

January

Country profile. Nicaragua 2001: “Changes to electoral law: new parties seeking registration must submit valid voters’ signatures equivalent to 3% of those voting in the previous national election and must form party slates in all 150 municipalities; and any party that fails to gain 4% of the vote in municipal or national elections loses its registration” (page 8).

Dye 2002: “ Nicaragua’s National Assembly passed constitutional amendments and a revised elections law in January 2000. The changes, known as a ‘political pact’ between the dominant Liberal and Sandinista parties, served to entrench these two parties’ control of key state institutions including the Supreme Electoral Council” (page 9).

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 2001-2002: national general elections, regional elections in Costa Atlántica 2003: “The 2000 Electoral Law introduces significant changes with respect to the conditions of participation for political organizations in the coastal regions, such as elimination of Popular Subscription Associations (ASP) and the requirement for traditional organizations in coastal areas to form regional parties, as well as creation of election procedures for the Costa Atlántica regions divided into electoral districts (‘circunscripciones’)” (page 50).

Hoyt 2004: “Less than a month later, January 18, 2000, the constitutional amendments passed the second required vote in the new session of the National Assembly, with seventy in favor, twelve against, and five abstaining. On the very same day that the constitutional amendments were passed, the National Assembly also passed a new electoral law that put in place the elements of the Pact which dealt with electoral matters. Seventy-five deputies voted in favor of the new law, four voted against it” (page 31). Lists the main features of the Pact (pages 31-32).

Millett 2000: “In January 2000 an agreement between the Liberals and the FSLN reformed the electoral law” (page 463). Describes provisions of the law.

Observación electoral: Nicaragua, 2000. Elecciones municipales 2001 : “La Ley Electoral No. 331 entró en vigor el 19 de enero de 2000” (page 10).

Orozco 2002: “After the January implementation of the reforms, all political parties began to organize and form alliances to comply with the requirements. A significant number of small parties immediately decided not to participate, overwhelmed by the excessive demands placed by the CSE. However, at least seven political groups sought to engage in the political game. Some of these parties were the [MRS], [PLI], [USC], [MDN], Pronal, Camino Cristiano, and [PCN]…To the Sandinista party it was important to have the MRS (and its alliance group, the Third Way) off the political landscape in order to run unchallenged as the party of the left. Alemán’s party, the [PLC], also wanted PLI and other smaller liberal groupings out of the electoral game” (page 116).

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “On January 18, 2000, in a session that lasted barely three hours, 70 of the 93 National Assembly representatives approved [the] reforms to the Constitution and the electoral law with little debate. Only 4 FSLN representatives voted against them, and several months later, the FSLN punished them by banishing them from its next electoral slate. This consummation of the pact marked the end of the formal democratic transition that began amidst so many limitations, after the FSLN’s electoral defeat, the end of the war and the beginning of the Chamorro government in 1990” (page 34).

Santiuste Cué 2001: “A principios de 2000, se estableció en Nicaragua un renovado orden político-institucional mediante la introducción de importantes modificaciones en la Constitución y en la Ley Electoral del país...Bajo este trasfondo de leyes y normativas, en Nicaragua se ha ido conformando un sistema de partidos que se caracteriza fundamentalmente por conjugar dos tipos de fenómenos aparentemente contradictorios. Por un lado, una estructura de competencia electoral bipolar, que está cimentada en la presencia de una fuerte oposición bilateral entre dos bloques políticos mutualmente excluyentes: sandinismo (izquierda política) y antisandinismo (derecha política)...(E)l objetivo de las reformas de 2000 es acercar al sistema de partidos nicaragüense a un modelo bipartidista. Un sistema de partidos bipartidista que estaría conformado por los dos partidos principales del país, que son los que han acordado y votado al unísono estas reformas: el [FSLN] y el [PLC]” (pages 482-483).

Stahler-Sholk 2004: “The post-pact electoral legislation (Law 331, January, 2000) expanding the CSE created a more partisan body, with three magistrates each from the FSLN and PLC and just one ‘independent’…Electoral reform reduced the proportion of votes needed to win the presidency on a first-round ballot from 45 to 40, or 35% if the first-placed candidate is at least five percentage points clear of the second-placed. The reforms significantly raised the barriers to forming or maintaining political parties, requiring them to retain committees at the national level and in each of Nicaragua’s 14 departments and 151 municipalities, and to present citizen signatures totaling 3% of the most recent electoral roll. Parties that formed alliances would each have to meet the 3%, and parties failing to obtain 4% of the vote at election time would lose their registration…Law 331 also changed the proportional representation formula for calculating vote remainders in the National Assembly, departing from the 1996 formula that favoured minor parties, and replacing it with the d’Hondt method which reinforced the advantage of the two largest parties” (pages 539-540).

February

NotiCen June 29, 2000: “In February, several small political parties organized a third-force coalition to oppose the PLC and FSLN. Included in the coalition were the Proyecto Nacional (PRONAL), Movimiento Nosotros Podemos, Unidad Social Cristiana (USC), Alianza Popular Conservadora (APC), Movimiento de Unidad Revolucionaria (MUR), Movimiento de Renovacion Sandinista (MRS), and Movimiento Democratico Nicaraguense (MDN). Only PRONAL and MRS have won enough votes in the last general election to gain legal standing as registered parties” (LADB).

Orozco 2002: “By February and March 2000, [the] political opposition parties sought to establish alliances as a third force to confront the two parties that had pacted with each other, abusing the Constitution and the legal framework to protect the status quo. Eight political groups agreed to form an implicit alliance supporting one party, the MDN, without formally declaring the alliance, thus avoiding the unrealistic quest of gathering the seventy-thousand and more signatures per party. However the implicit alliance broke before it was formed” (page 116).

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “Throughout the negotiations, Ortega had repeatedly demanded the head of CSE president Rosa Marina Zelaya, whom he blamed for the alleged fraud preventing his election in 1996. Zelaya was indeed replaced as president by Roberto Rivas in February 4, 2000” (page 34).

March

Dye 2002: “The CSE’s ranks increased in March 2000 from five to seven magistrates as Liberal and Sandinista leaders struck a political balance. Ostensibly an arrangement to provide each of the major parties with guarantees against fraud or wrongdoing, party politicization of the CSE drew immediate criticism and raised concern about how well the new body would work” (page 9).

Hoyt 2004: “In March 2000, Rev. Miguel Angel Casco, who had been the FSLN spokesperson on the Pact after Victor Hugo Tinoco left the negotiations, resigned both from the National Directorate of the FSLN and from the party itself. He joined those who said that the Pact was designed to keep the present leaders in positions of power while justifying their ill-gotten wealth or other abuses” (page 31). “Henry Ruíz…who served as minister of planning under the Sandinista government, left the FSLN in March of 2000” (page 33). “The [CSE] was also greatly affected by the Pact. In March 2000, shortly after the Pact came into force, CSE head Rosa Marina Zelaya, whom the FSLN blamed for their defeat in 1996, and her alternate Cyril Omier challenged the new electoral law, because it shortened their terms of office by a year” (pages 35-36).

Zub K. 2002: “En marzo del 2000 [Miguel Angel Casco, evangélico] fue destituido de la Comisión de Asuntos Religiosos del FSLN” (page 91). “Al parecer, la destitución de Casco tiene que ver con el reacomodo interno del sandinismo a partir del pacto…En esta coyuntura, era importante dar señales de una posible convivencia entre el sandinismo y la iglesia católica…Una forma de mostrar que los sandinistas no quieren entrar en contradicción con la iglesia católica, era eliminando los obstáculos que creaban la desconfianza” (page 92).

May

Central America report 14 July 2000: “After collecting the necessary 86,000 signatures to be registered in the November municipal elections, the Nicaraguan Democratic Movement party (MDN) dissolved after leaders defected. The MDN grew out of an alliance between politicians and business people, including Sandinistas and conservatives. It was considered the party that would change the bipartisan electoral system resulting from the Liberal-Sandinista pact. At the end of May, 15 MDN party leaders broke with the party and aligned themselves with the Conservative Party, receiving high-level posts and candidacies in return” (page 8).

NotiCen March 1, 2001: “In May 2000, Interior Minister Rene Herrera cancelled [former defense minister José Antonio] Alvarado’s citizenship, preventing him from seeking the presidency” (LADB).

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “In May 2000, after having passed the test of presenting 86,000 signatures of support and duly registering its mayoral candidates in all of the country’s municipalities, the [MDN] coalition was undone by pressure and maneuvers from Alemán and the FSLN. The anti-Sandinista [PC] enthusiastically collaborated by persuading 15 leaders of the original MDN party to break the signed agreements with the pluralist coalition and align with it instead. What was left of the ‘third way’ then decided to run in the municipal elections under the MRS banner and proposed Dora María Téllez as its candidate for mayor of Managua” (page 35).

June

Central America report 14 July 2000: “In June former army chief Joaquín Cuadra filed for the inscription of his National Unity Movement party. The party will need to collect almost 300,000 signatures during July and August. If successful, it will further divide the Sandinista block, already weakened by scandals surrounding Daniel Ortega and the political pact with Arnoldo Alemán’s government” (page 8).

NotiCen June 29, 2000: “In early June, with 86,000 signatures on its petition to qualify for the November elections, the MDN stunned its third-force partners by joining with the Partido Conservador de Nicaragua (PCN)...(T)he move left the remaining third-force parties without the necessary signatures to qualify for legal status in the coming elections...The [CSE] refused to return the 86,000 signatures, forcing the coalition to begin again collecting the minimum 65,000 signatures by July 25 to participate in the November elections...In late June, Cuadra, a former Sandinista, launched another third-force attempt, registering the Movimiento de Unidad Nacional as a political party. Cuadra described the party as centrist, avoiding the political extremes of the PLC and FSLN” (LADB).

July

Central America report 4 August 2000: “As the November 5 municipal elections approach, the decision of the electoral council to disqualify five small parties has stirred up controversy. Some analysts contend the electoral council has been politicized by the Sandinistas… Leaders of two political parties [Christian Movement Unity party and Nationalist Liberal Party] protested in front of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), after their parties were disqualified for the November 5 municipal elections…The three other parties were the Sandinista Renewal Movement of former vice president Sergio Ramírez and other former Sandinista leaders, the Liberal Salvation Movement, and the Conservative Alliance. The CSE has been widely criticized, both nationally and internationally, for its action” (page 6).

Hoyt 2004: “The CSE was busy in July 2000, dissolving twenty-six parties that failed to meet the newly stringent stipulations” (page 36).

NotiCen July 27, 2000: “In preparation for November municipal elections, [the CSE] rejected the petitions for registration from four opposition parties while approving the questionable authenticity of the governing party’s petition. These and other CSE actions have convinced many opposition leaders that the CSE has been politicized by the two major parties and is systematically forging a two-party power-sharing system...In early July, CSE magistrates Zelaya and Cyril Omier were forced out under another reform measure that cut one year off the magistrates’ terms...(A) new round of protests began in July when the CSE issued the final results of its verification, disqualifying petitions from the [MRS, PLN, MUC, and MSL]. This leaves the PLC, FSLN, Camino Cristiano, PC, Partido Indigena Multietnico (PIM), and YATAMA, an indigenous party of the Caribbean coast...In late July, MRS leaders decided to bypass the November elections, ally the party with Cuadra’s new MUN, and look to the 2001 general elections” (LADB).

NotiCen March 1, 2001: José Antonio “Alvarado, a co-founder and secretary general of the PLC, resigned his Cabinet post and the PLC in July 2000 and prepared for a run for the presidency this year. He announced the formation of a party for disgruntled Liberals called Movimiento Liberales por el Cambio” (LADB).

Orozco 2002: “The alliance, reorganized with five parties supporting the MRS, still moved forward and submitted 86,000 signatures to request legal representation to participate in the November 2000 municipal election. However, the Supreme Electoral Council rejected their petition” (page 116).

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “Zelaya…was unconstitutionally removed from the CSE altogether on July 3, a year before her term ended. In exchange, President Alemán asked for the head of Comptroller General Agustín Jarquín, who was trying to investigate his illicit enrichment…He finally quit in July 2000” (page 34). “When several parties managed to surmount the signature obstacle, the CSE created another one: a computerized procedure to verify the signatures. The CSE conducted this procedure with no transparency whatever and announced on July 18, with riot police surrounding their offices, that six national parties and alliances had been dropped from the municipal elections for failure to get enough valid signatures. Only the FSLN, PLC, PC and Christian Way remained” (page 35).

August

Country profile. Nicaragua 2001: “Composition of the National Assembly, Aug 2000” (page 10). Gives number of deputies from each party.

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “On August 20, the CSE unanimously voted to reject all appeals presented by excluded political parties and alliances. Since the electoral law established that failure to participate automatically signified loss of legal status, the CSE resolved that same day to cancel the legal recognition of 26 political parties” (page 35).

September

NotiCen October 19, 2000: “The campaign for 151 local offices got underway in Nicaragua in late September with the mayoralty of Managua the biggest prize...In late September, the FSLN joined in an alliance with the Unidad Social Cristiana (USC) in preparation for the Nov. 5 local elections and the general elections in 2001. FSLN secretary general Daniel Ortega and former Comptroller General Agustin Jarquin of the USC cemented the alliance with the signing of a Declaracion de Convergencia Electoral. The declaration calls on the USC to support FSLN candidates in towns where the USC has put up no candidate of its own and to support a platform of civic improvements...To administration critics, the most open attempt by the CSE to freeze out the opposition was the disqualification in September of PCN candidate Pedro Solorzano for participation in the Managua race. At the time, Solorzano was the leading candidate, according to polls...(T)he CSE declared him ineligible because he was registered as a voter in both the newly created municipality of El Cruzero and in the capital. The CSE ruled that he had not resided in El Cruzero the two years required under the electoral laws...Solorzano answered that the district where he lived in Managua was made a separate municipality earlier this year. He said the law on residence could not be applied since El Cruzero did not exist separate from Managua before this year” (LADB). Describes the candidates and campaign for mayor of Managua.

Orozco 2002: “The exclusion of Conservative Party’s Pedro Solórzano from the electoral game was an example of the use of the formal institutions to inhibit political participation” (page 117). Describes campaign against Solórzano.

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “The new electoral law, while eliminating the right even of local associations in the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions…to run candidates for municipal and regional government, it did name an exception in those areas by permitting regional parties, and two such parties—PAMUC and PIM—survived the July guillotine. In September…the CSE announced that YATAMA, a once-strong Miskito organization that had participated in all elections in both the RAAN and RAAS since 1990 had not qualified for switching from an association to a party by not filing on time” (page 35).

October

NotiCen November 9, 2000: “On Oct. 30, police confronted angry Miskitu Indians in the Caribbean town of Puerto Cabezas. The demonstrators were protesting a court ruling invalidating the indigenous Yatama party’s petition for a place on the ballot...Miskitu leader Brooklyn Rivera warned that there would be no elections in the Atlantic Coast region unless Yatama candidates were on the ballot. Rivera said the party had documents showing Yatama had met all CSE requirements for registration” (LADB).

November 5: municipal election

Anderson, Leslie 2002: Alemán “early on began to press for a constitutional change that would cut his term to five years and allow reelection…Yet Alemán’s efforts ultimately failed. He did get his constitutional change but public disgust with his corrupt rule and his disrespect for the separation of powers led to stunning losses by the Liberals in the November 2000 local elections.

The Sandinistas won nearly every major municipality nationwide, including Managua; the two exceptions were Masaya, which went Liberal, and Grenada, which went Conservative. The Liberals’ collapse at the polls effectively shut down Alemán’s reelection bid. As he entered his lame-duck year, many members of his own party were publicly distancing themselves from him” (page 83).

Anderson, Leslie 2005: “The early scheduling [of the municipal elections] allowed voters to elect the Sandinistas to most key municipal offices without attracting the international attention a national victory would have done” (page 233). “As a result of the constitutional changes made during the Alemán years, Nicaragua held separate municipal elections for the first time in its history. Previously, municipal elections had always coincided with national presidential elections. This separation of local elections from the national election so closely watched and observed abroad allowed Nicaraguans to act on their preference for many of the Sandinista social policies” (page 235).

Central America report 10 November 2000: “Preliminary results of the November 5 municipal election show the (FSLN) has defeated the (PLC) in key municipalities, including the most important, Managua. The preliminary results confirm what analysts had forecast: public disapproval of President Arnoldo Alemán’s administration has swung votes in favor of the Sandinistas. Meanwhile, voter abstention in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region is registered at 80%, in response to the (CSE) decision to exclude the indigenous Yatama party from participating” (page 1).

Country profile. Nicaragua 2001: “In the municipal elections held on November 5 th 2000, contested by four parties, the FSLN gained 40% of the vote and won the mayorship in Managua and ten other major cities. With other parties excluded, the Partido Conservador de Nicaragua (PC) emerged as a significant force, with 13% of the vote. This split the anti-Sandinista camp between the PC and the PLC, which gained 41% of the vote” (page 7).

Grigsby Vado 2003: The 2000 “municipal elections were the first ever to be held separately from the national ones, and hence were unclouded by the overwhelming tendency of voters to mark the party of their presidential choice across all ballots” (pages 17-18). Discusses election results.

Grigsby Vado 2004: “In the 2000 municipal elections, marked by an abstention rate of over 44%, the [PLC] took 94 municipal governments with 636,865 votes, the [FSLN] 52 with 618,821 and the Conservative Party 5 with 68,183. Although the Liberals won the vast majority of the country’s rural areas, the FSLN took the main urban centers, among them 11of the 17 municipalities that are also departmental capitals, including Managua” (page 21).

Grigsby Vado 2004a: “In 2000, abstention levels in [ Caribbean] municipalities with an indigenous majority exceeded 75%, partially reflecting an organized boycott. In the port city of Bilwi—known as Puerto Cabezas by the mestizo population—only 5,078 people voted out of an electoral roll of 27,5000, an 81.5% abstention rate” (page 25). “In 2000, FSLN candidate Moisés Arana was the surprise winner in Bluefields, the capital city of the RAAS” (page 26).

Hoyt 2004: “The Pact paid its first political dividends in the 2000 municipal elections, the first ever held independently of national general elections and the first to be conducted under the electoral law amended by the Pact. Although the PLC won a majority of the mayoral elections and plurality of the votes cast, the party lost Managua and several other key cities. With only a year to go before elections for a new president, National Assembly, and representatives to the Central American Parliament, the governing party was concerned” (page 36).

Is the game all sewn up? Questions and contradictions 1999: Discusses Alemán’s efforts to have this municipal election combined with the 2001 general election (pages 10-11).

Nicaragua ’s municipal elections: the good, the bad and the uncertain 2000: “ Nicaragua’s November 5 municipal elections came to a lamentable finish, with the governing [PLC] leaders putting off recognition of the results for several weeks. In the meantime, they used all manner of tricks and treats to resist having to accept results in strategic municipalities that favored their partners in the infamous pact—the opposition [FSLN]” (page 1).

NotiCen November 9, 2000: “Herty Lewites, candidate for the [FSLN], won the mayoral election in Managua...Though election observers reported no violence or outright fraud, the regional indigenous party Yatama was kept from participating, touching off a riot and an election boycott...The boycott in the Atlantic Coast region drastically reduced voting. The abstention rate there was around 80%...Of the 16,000 eligible voters in Puerto Cabezas, only 700 voted” (LADB). Gives additional information about the election.

Observación electoral: Nicaragua, 2000. Elecciones municipales 2001 : “Elección municipal en la Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte” (pages 32-34). “Marco cartográfico electoral definitivo elecciones 2000” (pages 89-92). Gives results by municipality.

Orozco 2002: “Only four political parties (FSLN, PLC, PCN, and the Christian Way) ran for the 2000 municipal elections…Political divisions and intimidation plagued the country. Alemán used his power to discourage, weaken or intimidate his opponents, within or outside his ranks. In the end, despite a partial victory of the PLC with 94 of 151 municipalities won, the Sandinistas prevailed in some of the key municipalities in the country: Managua, León, and Chinandega (and the Conservatives won Granada)” (pages 117-118). “Municipal election: votes by party and department” (page 118).

November 28

Keesing’s record of world events November 2000: “The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) announced on Nov. 28 the official results of elections in 151 municipalities held across the country on Nov. 5.  The ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) was the overall winner of the elections, securing control of 97 municipalities, whereas the opposition Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) won 49 municipalities and the Conservative Party five.  However, the FSLN secured 11 important departmental capitals (its mayoral candidate was elected in the capital Managua), compared with the five won by the PLC and the one achieved by the Conservative Party.  According to reports, the PLC secured about 42 per cent of the vote across the country” (electronic edition).

Nicaragua ’s municipal elections: the good, the bad and the uncertain 2000: “In a highly charged atmosphere in the early hours of November 28, the [CSE] finally announced the definite results” (page 1). Describes events leading up to the announcement. “In a strictly quantitative analysis, the PLC looked like a winner. It not only won the largest number of mayoral races, but also increased the overall number of municipalities it governs from 91 to 94 and got more valid votes than the FSLN, though only by little over one percent. These data, however, hide the fact that it lost 11 of the 17 departmental seats that it controlled, including Managua. The PLC won in the more rural municipalities and the FSLN predominated in the urban ones” (pages 1-2). Discusses the results. “Municipal elections 2000: national results at a glance” (page 2).

NotiCen December 7, 2000: Gives municipal election results. “The delay in releasing the final tally compounded suspicions among Sandinistas about election irregularities and sinister manipulations by the CSE. Reports by...election-observer teams said there was mistreatment of both voters and election observers and mistakes by the CSE in providing the necessary conditions for poll watchers” (LADB).

Rocha 2000: Has a detailed discussion of the results. “Municipalities won (number and percentage)” (page 17). Gives by department the number of municipalities won by each party. “FSLN and PLC: departmental results (votes and percentages of votes over registered voters)” (page 19). “Liberals: votes over registered voters for each department in 1996 and 2000” (page 21). “FSLN: votes over registered voters for each department in 1996 and 2000 (percentages)” (page 21). “The main protagonists of these elections were those who chose to abstain…All victories achieved in these elections become relative when compared to the number of potential voters who abstained…Of the 2,748,204 registered voters, 1,531,916 cast valid votes and 1,216,288 either did not vote or spoiled their ballots” (page 22). Discusses impact of abstention on the election (pages 22-24). “Few new opportunities for women” (pages 24). “The fact that the percentage of women candidates was higher than the posts obtained by women [for both the FSLN and the PLC] fuels suspicions that female candidates were predominantly placed where they were likely to lose” (page 24).

Zub K. 2002: “A nivel nacional, el PLC obtuvo 636.685 votos para alcaldes y vice alcaldes, el FSLN 617.921, el PC 203.845 y el CCN 68.183 votos que representan poco mas del 4,3% del total. En esta contienda, el CCN perdió su tercer lugar y no obtuvo ninguna alcaldía. En cambio, el PC, partido que a lo largo de los últimos años hizo oposición real al PLC, ascendió al tercer lugar al pasar de 3% en 1996, a 14% en el 2000” (page 121).

December

Keesing’s record of world events January 2001: “(I)t was reported on Dec. 16, 2000, that the CSE had...refused to recognise the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) established by former Defence Minister José Antonio Alvarado in July 2000” (electronic edition). 

NotiCen January 25, 2001: “Ortega announced that he intended to run for president this year. The announcement raised objections among Sandinistas who favor a through renovation of the party...In December 2000, Ortega’s brother, former army chief Gen. Humberto Ortega, also urged him not run. [He, like others], sees a better candidate in Herty Lewites, who won the mayoral election in Managua last year...Later in December, the head of the [MUN], retired Gen. Joaquin Cuadra, said he would be willing to stay out of the race in favor of a candidate heading a grand alliance in opposition to both a governing-party alliance and a Sandinista alliance. MUN, which is still trying to get official recognition as a party from the [CSE], includes militants from the former contra forces and is looking for more support from them...On Dec. 5, former comptroller general Jarquin announced his intention to seek the FSLN nomination...(I)t was widely assumed that he would take the vice presidential position...In mid-December, some [FSLN] party militants challenged the candidacy for re-election of three Sandinista legislators who opposed Ortega’s candidacy” (LADB).

2001

Anderson, Leslie 2005: “The 2001 campaign and the Bolaños victory” (pages 236-241).

Close 2004: “In 2001, at the end of the administration of President Arnoldo Alemán, Nicaragua was a less democratic country than it had been at the start of his term in 1996. The system of checks and balances had been undermined. Citizens had fewer electoral choices. Key state institutions had lost their independence and been turned into fiefdoms for partisan patronage. Freedom of the press was under attack. And most people were still desperately poor” (page 1).

Close 2004a: “Alemán’s plan apparently was to retain as much control over Nicaragua’s public affairs as possible. The best way to do that, given that he could not run for immediate reelection, was to have a loyalist become president, while Alemán actually ran the country from the National Assembly. To implement the plan, the then-president’s first choice as PLC standard-bearer was Ivan Escobar Fornos…However, Escobar seemed too close to Alemán to have a credible claim to independence. The Liberals also looked at Eduardo Montealegre,…but found him too unpredictable. The party finally decided on Bolaños, [Alemán’s vice-president]” (page 169).

European Union. Election Observation Mission to Nicaragua 2001: “Polarization between candidates escalated up to Election Day. The main parties, which managed to field strong candidates, PLC and FSLN, were in opposite not so much over their programs which were quite similar, but in terms of the personality of the presidential candidates who were frequently presented as life and death alternatives” (page 5).

Pérez-Baltodano 2004: “In the last year of the Alemán presidency the international reputation of the Nicaraguan government was in a shambles…The Nicaraguan Catholic Church, however, publicly defended Alemán and his government against documented accusations of abuses of power and corruption…(T)he Church consistently maintained that the main cause of poverty and corruption in Nicaragua lay in the revolutionary experiment led by the FSLN from 1979 to 1990” (page 91).

Téllez 2004: “By the [2001] presidential elections, the Convergence had begun to expand, each new force or personality climbing on board after bilateral negotiations with the FSLN…The issue of how these agreements would be expressed electorally remained unresolved over the years” (page 10).

Zub K. 2002: “(M)eses después de las elecciones municipales, el MUC formalizó una alianza con el FSLN para concurrir juntos a las elecciones presidenciales de noviembre del 2001, elecciones en las cuales el pastor Duarte pretendía correr como Vice-presidente en la formula con Daniel Ortega” (page 116).

January

Central America report 9 February 2001: “On January 21, elections were held within the FSLN to choose its next presidential candidate. Ortega defeated Victor Hugo Tinoco and Alejandro Martínez Cuenca with 70% of the nearly half a million ballots cast. However, the legitimacy of the process was questioned by reports of ballot shortages, fraud and votes being cast in nonexistent voting sites” (page 7).

Keesing’s record of world events January 2001: “It was reported on Jan. 16 that the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), which was empowered to supervise elections and political parties, had voted not to recognise the National Unity Party (PUN) as a political party.  The decision of the CSE, which was made without explanation, meant that the former commander-in-chief of the army, Gen. Joaquín Cuadra Lacayo, the party's prospective presidential candidate, was effectively barred from the 2001 presidential election” (electronic edition). 

NotiCen January 25, 2001: “At the [PLC] mini-convention held at President Arnoldo Aleman’s El Chile estate on Jan. 14, 400 PLC members chose former Vice President Bolanos as the party’s presidential candidate and Jose Rizo Castellan the vice presidential candidate. The ticket will be ratified at the party convention Jan. 28...(S)everal parties are considering electoral alliances. [MUC] and the FSLN have been holding talks, and on Jan. 17, just before the FSLN primary, the two parties signed an alliance...On Jan. 21, the FSLN nominated its candidates. Some 400,000 Sandinistas were eligible to vote in the internal election held nationwide. As expected, Ortega won the primary, but amid accusations of fraud. The FSLN’s electoral commission gave 70% of the vote to Ortega, while Tinoco and Alejandro Martinez shared the rest” (LADB). Discusses charges of fraud in the FSLN primary election.

Zub K. 2002: “Miguel A. Casco, como una nueva manera de continuar en la política y negociar cuotas de poder, en enero del 2001 reunió a más de 300 delegados quienes disolvieron el [MEP] y constituyeron el Partido por la Dignidad Nacional (PDN) del cual es Presidente. Los asistentes…nombraron por aclamación como presidente honorario a Edén Pastora” (page 117). “Por su composición y características, el PDN intrinsecamente excluye la posibilidad de captar el voto pentecostal y con pocas probabilidades para acceder al voto de los sectores evangélicos más progresistas. Al parecer, está más orientado a capitalizar al sandinismo disidente y a quienes votaron por él en las pasadas elecciones” (page 118).

February

Central America report 16 February 2001: “Daniel Ortega’s triumph in the primaries as the (FSLN) presidential candidate has sparked opposition efforts to prevent his election” (page 8). Describes possible party alliances.

Keesing’s record of world events February 2001: “It was reported on Feb. 1 that former President Daniel Ortega Saavedra (1985-90) had defeated two rival candidates in a ballot of party members, held on Jan. 21, to secure election as the candidate of the opposition Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in forthcoming presidential elections” (electronic edition).

NotiCen May 31, 2001: “In February, the FSLN signed an electoral alliance (Convergencia Nacional) agreement with Jarquin’s party, the Unidad Social Cristiana (USC), and with other smaller parties. Under the agreement setting up the Convergencia Nacional, the parties proposed to govern with austerity, fight corruption, decentralize government, and support the office of comptroller general” (LADB).

April

NotiCen May 31, 2001: “In April, a group of former contra (Resistencia Nicaraguense) commanders went to Washington seeking US help in blocking the Sandinista return to power. One proposal was for US assistance in registering anti-Sandinista voters” (LADB).

May

Dye 2002: “Presidential candidates Enrique Bolaños of the [PLC], Daniel Ortega of the [FSLN], and initially Noel Vidaurre of the [PC] registered to run by the May 31 deadline. Each candidate negotiated support from an array of smaller parties and political notables. Only the PLC negotiated a formal alliance with the [PRN], under the terms of the revised elections law. The variegated collage of groupings and personalities informally allied to the FSLN was given the name ‘National Convergence’…The race became polarized early on. In contrast to 1996, Daniel Ortega developed a surprise early lead in the polls…Fear of the Sandinista leader’s return soon prompted signs of capital flight, reproaches from Catholic church leaders, and expressions of distrust in Ortega’s democratic credentials by spokespersons of the U.S. government, including the U.S. ambassador” (page 10). “Partisan division of the CSE deepened in May 2001 when the magistrates decreed a restructuring of the election administration to provide for a systematic balance between the two major parties at all levels” (page 11).

NotiCen May 31, 2001: “In May, the FSLN’s party assembly ratified the ticket for the Nov. 4 elections. Party secretary general Ortega will be the Sandinista presidential candidate and former comptroller general Agustin Jarquin his running mate” (LADB).

Stahler-Sholk 2004: The January 2000 electoral reform’s “unusually high thresholds and onerous signature requirements effectively reduced the field of parties from 24 in 1996 to only three qualifying in 2001, namely the PLC, the FSLN, and the Conservative Party (PC)” (page 540). “Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega outmanoeuvred contenders for the FSLN nomination, choosing former Comptroller Jarquín as his running-mate in a ‘National Convergence’ electoral alliance” (page 541).

June

Dye 2002: “In June, the CSE made a preliminary determination that the full election roll consisted of 2,877,871 people. This total included everyone eligible who had at one time or another solicited a national identity card called a ‘cedula’” (page 12).

NotiCen June 28, 2001: “The [CSE] declared Jose Antonio Alvarado ineligible to run for the vice presidency in the November elections...The minority [PC] had selected Alvarado as presidential candidate Noel Vidaurre’s running mate...The governing party’s presidential candidate, Enrique Bolanos, said he regretted the ruling against Alvarado...Bolanos announced that once elected president he would immediately propose legislation to rid the electoral law of the limitations on political rights that invalidated Alvarado’s candidacy” (LABD).

July

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 17 July 2001: “The electoral alliance between the ruling [PLC] and the former contras of the Partido de la Resistencia Nicaragüense (PRN) is proving to be an uneasy one. When, at the beginning of July, the PLC drew up its list of candidates for the November elections, it excluded names put forward by the PRN leadership…All of the parties have until 28 July to register their lists of candidates with the CSE, and the election campaign officially opens in mid-August” (Latinnews.com).

Stahler-Sholk 2004: “By mid-2001, polls showed Ortega within range of a first-ballot win over Bolaños. Then the US ambassador to Nicaragua and other high-level State Department officials began warning publicly of US disapproval of the FSLN” (page 541).

August

Dye 2002: “To expand his coalition and turn himself into a contender, candidate Noel Vidaurre [PC] attempted to forge an alliance with elements of the Sandinista left that had split off from Daniel Ortega in prior years. Certain PC candidates for deputy opposed this move, leading Vidaurre to tender his resignation amidst charges of outside interference in the party’s affairs. On August 6, the party nominated Alberto Saborío as Vidaurre’s replacement. A steep decline in public support for the party ensued immediately, to the benefit of Liberal candidate Enrique Bolaños” (page 13).

NotiCen September 6, 2001: “The [FSLN] and the [MRS] have reunited in an electoral pact to face the governing [PLC] in the Nov. 4 presidential election...Ortega and MRS president Dora Maria Tellez signed the agreement Aug. 28. The FSLN-led electoral alliance, known as the Convergencia Nacional, now includes many of the MRS dissidents who left the party in 1995...The Convergencia also includes other small, unregistered parties such as the [MUC] and the [UDC]...Tellez said the decision to rejoin the FSLN had unanimous backing within her party, but Jorge Samper, the lone MRS deputy in the legislature, criticized the agreement and said not all party members supported it. [Sergio] Ramirez also rejected the agreement...Ramirez described the MRS-FSLN agreement as the dissolution of his party brought about by the electoral reforms and the resulting polarization of the political culture” (LADB).

Zub K. 2002: “(E)n agosto del 2001 los Obispos católicos emitieron una Carta Pastoral en que expresan su oposición al FSLN…Estas afirmaciones fueron interpretadas como una exhortación a no votar por el FSLN” (page 93).

September

Anderson, Leslie 2005: “The three contenders opened their campaigns in September 2001 and closed them one week prior to the election on November 4, 2001” (page 239).

Elecciones y cultura política en Nicaragua 2001: “El lector encontrará en estas páginas los resultados de una investigación empírica que el equipo de IDESO-UCA llevó a cabo en los días comprendidos entre el 1 y el 23 de septiembre del 2001, en el marco del proyecto ‘Gobernabilidad y participación ciudadana’” (page 1). Includes responses to many survey questions relating to the upcoming elections.

European Union. Election Observation Mission to Nicaragua 2001: “(A)fter September 11...US officials in Managua were reported to have made remarks associating Daniel Ortega directly with terrorism and with Arab leaders...Media coverage of such statements may have had an impact on the election campaign” (page 6).

NotiCen September 6, 2001: “Ortega recruited the conservative Alianza Popular Conservadora (APC) into the Convergencia on Sept. 4” (LADB).

Zub K. 2002: “(E)l 17 de septiembre del 2001 [Miguel Angel] Casco, como presidente del Partido de la Dignidad Nacional, firmó un ‘Compromiso Patriótico’ con el candidato presidencial del PLC, el. Ing. Enrique Bolaños Geyer” (page 94). “El ‘compromiso patriótico’ presupone una unidad del PDN con el PLC, donde también participa el CCN como aliado evangélico con cargos de diputación” (page 95).

October

Dye 2002: “ U.S. government actions in Nicaragua in the wake of Sept. 11 continued to hint at an unstated preference for one of the contenders. In mid-October during the campaign, U.S. Ambassador Oliver Garza appeared widely in the media distributing shipments of U.S. food aid to drought victims in northern Nicaragua in the company of Enrique Bolaños, the Liberal presidential candidate” (page 18).

European Union. Election Observation Mission to Nicaragua 2001: “A week before the elections, President Alemán indicated in political and diplomatic circles, as well as in public statements, that it might become necessary to declare a state of emergency. These remarks related to the possibility that no clear winner would emerge, and that either candidate could declare himself President...The two main presidential candidates distanced themselves from President Alemán’s remarks” (page 6).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 30 October 2001: “The Sandinistas have formed a coalition with five political groups: Unidad Social Cristiana (USC), Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista (MRS; a splinter of the FSLN), Movimiento de Unidad Cristiana (MUC; evangelical), Movimiento Arriba Nicaragua, and a faction of Resistencia Nicaraguense (former Contras). Apart from the two leading parties, the Partido Conservador is fielding Alberto Saborío (though a faction is supporting Bolaños)” (Latinnews.com).

NotiCen October 18, 2001: “Two PLC members...announced in a recent press conference that they were joining the FSLN’s alliance. Both have been associates of President Arnoldo Aleman...Perhaps more damaging than the Liberal defectors for the PLC are the three prominent Sandinistas who have said they would not vote at all. Sergio Ramirez, former Sandinista vice president under Ortega and leader of the MRS, along with novelist Gioconda Belli and poet and former minister of culture Ernesto Cardenal, announced Oct. 9 that they would abstain in the election. ‘Nothing remains of the party that led the revolution but appearances,’ said the three in a joint statement...The US has joined in the campaign through repeated warnings that it would not like to see Ortega win...Twice during the first week of October, the Bush administration said the FSLN had maintained ties with Iraq and Libya...If Ortega wins the election, says the PLC, he will bring the wrath of the US down upon Nicaragua, because the US says it will attack states that sponsor terrorism” (LADB).

November 4: general election (Bolaños / PLC)

Anderson, Leslie 2002: “In November 2001, Nicaraguans voted in their country’s fourth national election since the Somoza regime was overthrown in 1979 and the third since the electoral defeat of the [FSLN] in 1990. For the third straight time, they chose a conservative candidate who espoused democratic liberties” (page 80). “The voting in historical context” (pages 83-85). “The 2000 municipal elections…introduced into the 2001 elections an electoral dynamic never previously seen in Nicaragua. The national elections in 1984, 1990, and 1996 had been synchronized, with presidential, legislative, and municipal offices all up for grabs on the same day. Alemán’s constitutional change had shifted this schedule, handing voters in the 2000 municipal balloting a chance to set the context for the 2001 race…(V)oters could more easily split their ticket in the old Italian fashion, voting for the left at the local level while continuing to support the right for the presidency” (page 83).

Central America report 9 November 2001: “Bolaños has 56.1% of the total valid votes, while [FSLN] candidate Daniel Ortega has received 42.5%. Conservative Party candidate Alberto Saborio holds a mere 1.4%,…which could lead to the party losing its legal status. Bolaños won in 14 of the 17 departments while the Front won in only three…The PLC won 118 municipalities while the FSLN won 33…If there is no change in the results, the PLC could have 54 deputies in the Legislative Assembly, while the FSLN would have 36 and the PC two” (page 7).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections 35 2002: Describes the electoral system, the background and outcome of the elections, and statistics, including the distribution of seats according to political group and sex (out of 92 seats 19 went to women in this election) (pages 102-105).

Dye 2002: “Election day observation” (pages 21-22). “Election night and vote count” (pages 22-24). Describes other aspects of the election (pages 24-28). “Nicaraguans went to the polls in large numbers Sunday, Nov. 4, to elect a new president and vice president, members of the National Assembly, and representatives to the Central America Parliament” (page 54). “Final election results” (pages 59-60). Gives number of valid votes and percent they constitute of total valid votes for three parties for president and vice-president, national deputies, departmental deputies, and Central American Parliament. Also gives the distribution of assembly seats by party and their distribution across departments and regions.

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 2001-2002: national general elections, regional elections in Costa Atlántica 2003: “Political context of the election” (pages 21-26). “For the November 4, 2001 elections, there were three parties authorized and accredited by the CSE to take part in the elections for president and vice president of the nation [FSLN, PLC, PC]. Alliances were also formed between the following political parties: the [PRN with the PLC], the [CCN with the PLC], the Christian Democratic Party [with the FSLN]” (page 24). “Election day” (pages 27-32). “Postelectoral political context” (pages 33-38). “Denunciations, complaints, and claims observed” (pages 39-45).

European Union. Election Observation Mission to Nicaragua 2001: “(T)he number of both international and domestic observers for these elections was curiously larger than in 1996 and 1990” (page 7). “The results of the elections” (pages 11-15). “Presidential vote in different geographical areas” (pages 13-14). “Irregularities, claims and complaints” (pages 15-17).

Keesing’s record of world events November 2001: Gives results of the election (electronic edition).

Nicaragua election observation report, November 4, 2001 2002: “Final results: presidential election” (page 5). “Final results: national deputy election (20 seats)” (page 5). “Final results: departmental deputy election (70 seats)” (page 6). “Final results: Central American parliament election (20 seats)” (page 6). “Election administration” (pages 16-29). “Electoral environment” (pages 30-34). “Vote counting and related processes” (pages 35-37).

Nitlapán-Envío Team 2001: Discusses the election.

NotiCen November 8, 2001: Discusses election results (LADB). “The abstention rate was estimated at only around 8%, compared with 27% in the 1996 election...The official CSE count on Nov. 7 had the PLC taking 47 seats, the FSLN 43, and the PC two.”

Orozco 2002: “The short-term outcome of the reforms and the municipal elections suggests that the FSLN and PLC succeeded in becoming the two dominant parties: a Sandinista group and the PLC rightist group with strong ideological links to the Somoza legacy. The November 2001 election was also framed by these contours. Although three major parties were participating in the contest, the FSLN with Daniel Ortega as its presidential candidate, the PLC with Enrique Bolaños, and the Conservative Party with Alberto Saborío, the Liberals and Sandinistas were the predominant groups” (pages 118-119). Describes the election. “The legacy of the FSLN continued to remain fresh in people’s minds, and the public dislike of Daniel Ortega was very significant…The end result of the election was an overwhelming victory for Enrique Bolaños who received 56% of the votes against 42% for the FSLN. His rupture from Alemán, the electoral support gained over time, people’s fears about a Sandinista return, tipped the balance to Bolaños side. The Sandinista defeat demonstrated the party’s inability to garner more than 40% of the vote for the third consecutive time” (pages 120-121).

The road to the elections was paved with fraud 2001: “ November 4, 2001: a huge turnout, a clean and transparent vote count. But these two signs of democracy legitimated a murky, undemocratic process based on exclusion and designed for polarization. There was no fraud during the elections; that happened earlier” (page 31). Discusses in detail the events leading up to the election.

Rocha 2001: Analyzes election results. “The results: numbers and percentages of votes” (page 17). “Percentages of abstention and null votes” (page 20). Lists by department the percentages for elections in 1996, 2000, and 2001. “National Assembly representatives” (page 22). Gives by department the number elected by each party. “Women in the new Assembly (pages 22-23). “The new National Assembly will have a better gender balances, with 20 women representatives, almost 22% of the total, exactly twice as many as the outgoing legislature” (page 22). Discusses the placement of women on the slates of each party.

Stahler-Sholk 2003: “The 2001 elections comprised a ballot for the presidency, the election of 90 members of the National Assembly, and the election of 20 members to the Central American Parliament. The presidency is contested by a simple ballot with provision for a run-off. Assembly members are elected via a proportional system using the d’Hondt formula, 70 members from departmental constituencies and 20 in a national constituency. The Central American Parliament seats are also allocated proportionally in a single national district” (page 538). “In the legislative election, the PLC…won a clear majority, taking 53% of the vote and 52 of the 90 National Assembly seats. The FSLN took 42% of the vote and won 37 seats. The Conservative Party, which as a whole did rather better than its presidential candidate, took 5% of the vote and won the remaining seat. (Since both former president Alemán and runner-up Ortega were entitled to an Assembly seat, the final seat tallies for the PLC and FSLN were one higher than the figures above.) Finally, the PLC won 11 of the 20 seats in the Central American Parliament; the remaining nine seats were taken by the FSLN” (page 542). “Results of the 2001 election in Nicaragua” (page 543). Gives number and percent of total votes for PLC, FSLN and PC in each election; total valid votes; and registered voters.

Zub K. 2002: “[Guillermo] Osorno hizo una alianza electoral con el PLC, partido que ganó las elecciones del 2001 y fue reelecto como diputado para el período 2002-2005. Esta vez, el CCN no realizó una campaña propia sino que lo hizo junto al PLC” (page 87).

November 14

European Union. Election Observation Mission to Nicaragua 2001: “The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) can be characterized by its lack of authority, efficacy and efficiency, especially at the national level...It came as no surprise that the ballot counting was completed only by November 14. These technical failings and inefficiency on the part of the CSE were in spite of the fact that this election turned out to be the costliest ever in Nicaragua with an estimated budget of USD 45 million, and an average cost per registered voter of around USD 15, according to data provided by the CSE” (page 7-8).

November 21

European Union. Election Observation Mission to Nicaragua 2001: “The results for a 90-seat National Assembly as proclaimed officially on 21 November 2001 are the following: 52 seats to the PLC, 37 to the FSLN, and 1 to the PC for the electoral district of Managua. These results come out of adding seats obtained at a national list and at the different departmental and regional districts. One must add two more ‘ex officio’ seats: one for Arnoldo Alemán, as the outgoing president, and other for Daniel Ortega, as the second-runner to the presidency...The parliamentary elections for the National Assembly were organized through the election of 20 representatives elected from a national electoral district and 70 representatives elected from 17 departmental or regional districts of different sizes” (page 12).

December

Anderson, Leslie 2005: “In an unprecedented display of legality, and in an effort to separate himself definitively from Alemán, Enrique Bolaños refused to declare himself the winner until all ballots had been counted. He affirmed, instead, that it was not up to him to do so but that declaration of the electoral outcome was the task of the Supreme Electoral Council” (page 240).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections 35 2002: “On 4 December 2001 Mr Enrique Bolaños was officially proclaimed President-elect” (page 104).

Kampwirth 2004: “(T)o the surprise of many, Ortega voluntarily gave up his parliamentary immunity in December 2001 so as to appear before Juana Méndez, a judge who according to her own testimony had been a loyal supporter of Ortega’s faction within the FSLN since the seventies. To the surprise of few, Méndez threw out the case [brought by Zoilamérica] nearly immediately” (page 74).

2002

January

Close 2004a: “To make sure that he would keep his face before the public until the next election, draw a public salary, maintain control of the PLC, and be well placed to return as chief executive should anything happen to President Bolaños, Alemán needed more than just a legislative seat: he needed to be speaker of the Assembly. However, the Assembly elected its officers before Nicaragua’s new president was sworn in, when Alemán would still be chief executive and forbidden to sit in the legislature. The problem was solved when a PLC placeman, Oscar Moncada, won the Assembly’s presidency…As soon as Alemán took his seat in the Assembly his placeman resigned and Alemán was elected” (page 169).

Dye 2002: “On Jan. 9, the 91 elected deputies from all three parties took their seats in the National Assembly and voted on candidates to occupy the seven seats on the legislature’s governing board. Outgoing President Alemán, allocated the 92 nd seat automatically by virtue of the January 2000 changes to the constitution, did not attend, as his presidential term had not yet concluded…The inauguration of Enrique Bolaños Geyer as Nicaragua’s 38 th president on Jan. 10, 2002, brought the election process to a successful conclusion” (page 28).

Keesing’s record of world events February 2002: “The former President of Nicaragua Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, was elected President of the National Assembly (the unicameral legislature) on Jan. 17.  Alemán defeated Jaime Cuadra, a rival candidate and fellow member of the ruling centre-right Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), by a margin of 49 votes to five.  Alemán's victory over Cuadra was widely seen as a setback for the newly inaugurated PLC President of Nicaragua, Enrique Bolaños, since Alemán had made it known that he intended to run for the presidency of Nicaragua in 2007, raising the possibility of a protracted power struggle between the two PLC leaders.  Under the terms of political reforms agreed between the Alemán administration (1996-2001) and the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the then President Alemán had been guaranteed a seat in the National Assembly upon expiry of his term of office.  However, he was barred from seeking re-election to the presidency until one full term had passed.  Thus Alemán, who had come to power in the presidential elections of 1996, could not contest the presidential election of November 2001” (electronic edition).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 15 January 2002: “From the presidency of the assembly, with a comfortable majority of his own, Alemán expects to become the real power in the land. And from there he will immediately set himself to the task of preparing his return to the presidency in 2007 (the reforms agreed with the Sandinistas lifted the absolute bar on re-election, but stipulated that one full term should pass before anyone can seek to be reelected)” (Latinnews.com).

Navarro 2004: “En la actual Asamblea Nacional se ha incrementado el número de mujeres parlamentarias. El Frente Sandinista cuenta con 14 mujeres y el Partido liberal y sus aliados con 8” (page 71).

March 3: election in Atlantic Autonomous Regions

Electoral observation Nicaragua, 2001-2002: national general elections, regional elections in Costa Atlántica 2003: “In accordance with the change introduced by the 2000 Electoral Law, which makes it a requirement to have received at least 3 percent of the vote in the previous elections in order to have legal standing, only 5 of the 14 political parties that took part in the 1998 regional elections were present at this year’s elections [FSLN, PLC, PRN, YATAMA, PAMUC]” (pages 50-51). “Election day” (pages 52-53). “A considerable number of people abstained from voting; according to calculations this was as high as 65 percent” (page 53).

Envío March 2002: “Elections were held on March 3 in the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions…to elect the 45 people who will make up the Regional Councils in each of the two regions. The disorder promoted by the [CSE] and the lack of credibility among parties and candidates undermined the legitimacy of the process and were among the main reasons why 62% of the nearly 200,000 eligible voters abstained. According to official projections for the RAAN, the [PLC] won 17 seats, the FSLN 15, the Miskito organization YATAMA 12 and PAMUC, another regional party, 1. In the RAAS, the PLC won 31, the FSLN 13 and YATAMA 1” (page 9).

Grigsby Vado 2004a: “Only 37% of registered voters turned out for the elections of the two autonomous governments in 2002” (page 25).

Hodgson D. 2002: “Following the March 3 elections for the 45-member Regional Councils, preparations got underway for the inaugural session of the new governments on May 4, when the CSE president would deliver their credentials, preside over the election of the new 7-member boards, then swear everyone into their elected posts. Alemán detected a strategic opportunity to buttress his strength…, shutting Enrique Bolaños out of the Caribbean. He therefore immediately set about guaranteeing that the new Regional Council leadership would defend his interests. He anticipated no problem in the RAAS because the PLC had won an absolute majority and thus did not even need an alliance much less CSE manipulation to pack the board with Liberals” (page 34). “Some of the local Liberals…expressed concern about Alemán’s motivations in imposing as maximum authorities in the [RAAS] Liberals from the Pacific who knew so little about the life and aspirations of the multiethnic Caribbean population…In the RAAN, an alliance between the newly elected Regional Council members from the FSLN and those from the Miskito organization YATAMA was enough to create a majority. This clearly called for special institutional support from the CSE magistrates loyal to Alemán” (page 35).

Nicaragua election observation report, November 4, 2001 2002: “Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast regional elections, March 3, 2002” (pages 47-49). “The March 3, 2002 regional elections served to elect a total of 90 council members, 45 each in the country’s North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions. Still-lingering issues from the November 4, 2001 general elections adversely affected the CSE’s preparations, essentially leading to a split in the CSE’s leadership. The resulting impasse within the electoral authority, coupled with an increasing lack of credibility among voters, led to an alarmingly high abstention rate. Only 73,124 citizens cast their ballots, equal to 37 percent of the regions’ eligible voters” (page 47). “Final results” (page 47).

March 21

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 25 March 2002: “Judicial proceedings were opened against former President Arnoldo Alemán on 21 March on charges that officials in his government defrauded the government of US$1.3m in a state television deal. Judge Gertrudis Arias ruled that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Alemán, but only congress can choose whether to strip him of his immunity from prosecution…At the root of the case is a power struggle between Bolaños and Alemán” (Latinnews.com).

May

Close 2004a: “Although Bolaños headed the PLC ticket, the party is Alemán’s. Thus in May 2002, with Alemán charged with various counts of corrupt practices and several of his top lieutenants either in jail…or having fled the country to avoid prosecution…, the party was mobilized to protect Arnoldo Alemán” (page 171).

Hodgson D. 2002: “The previous governments in the [RAAN and RAAS] completed their term on May 4, but that same day the Liberal faction of the [CSE] used blatantly illegal maneuvers to install an exclusively Liberal executive board in the RAAS and suspend the election of the board in the RAAN. Both autonomous governments thus went months without a functioning Regional Council, coordinator or board” (page 33). “The attention of the Caribbean inhabitants has been gripped…by the question of whether President Bolaños will follow his predecessors in excluding coast people from the so-called national government or will promote the creation of a state that recognized the Nicaraguan people as multiethnic, as the Constitution establishes” (page 34). Describes the participation of Alemán and the CSE in the suspension of the RAAN board elections (pages 35-36). “Street demonstrations erupted in Bilwi and various appeals were immediately filed against the CSE’s actions in both the RAAN and the RAAS, which the respective appeals courts upheld. The Supreme Court as well found itself forced to contradict the CSE president” (page 36).

June

Central America report 12 July 2002: “The ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) officially split in two on June 23 when an extraordinary convention endorsed by 50% of official party leaders decided to name a new board of directors loyal to current Nicaraguan president Enrique Bolaños” (page 2).

Close 2004a: “The administration’s response was to start a parallel PLC, the so-called Bolañistas. Vice President José Rizo was the main organizer” (page 172).

Country profile. Nicaragua 2002: “Conflict between Mr Bolaños and Mr Alemán [now president of the National Assembly] quickly broke out as the former president strove to use control of his party’s legislators to dictate terms to the new president. A split in the 53-member PLC bench ensued, with five lawmakers forming a separate bench, ‘Azul y Blanco’…to support Mr Bolaños against Mr Alemán” (pages 9-10).

Hodgson D. 2002: The Supreme Court “handed down a resolution in June establishing that Juan Saballos, the candidate for RAAN Regional Council president who had received the majority of the votes on May 4, had been duly elected according to procedures used in all three previous elections. It further ordered the CSE magistrates to return to Bilwi to preside over the election of the remaining posts. The CSE accepted this ruling, but dragged its feet in complying with it. The population thus took to the streets of Bilwi again, angrily demanding that the CSE get on with it, which it finally did” (page 36).

NotiCen July 18, 2002: “Pro-Bolanos members of the PLC held a special party convention on June 23 to oust the official party leadership. The special convention, an alternative to the July 11 yearly convention controlled by Aleman and his allies, addressed the validity of the party’s internal elections and the proposal for a party plebiscite so that the party’s grassroots could elect its leaders” (LADB).

July

NotiCen July 18, 2002: “(O)n July 11, the CSE gave the clear indication that it continued to recognize the official pro-Aleman PLC directorate as the legitimate leadership of the party” (LADB).

August

Close 2004a: “On August 7, 2002, President Enrique Bolaños announced to the nation that his administration had charged Arnoldo Alemán, and thirteen other persons, including several members of the president’s family, with fraud, embezzlement, criminal conspiracy, and money laundering…The Liberals replied that they would defend Arnoldo to the end…Constitutionally precluded from a second consecutive term as president, Arnoldo Alemán nevertheless wanted to keep his patrimonial system intact. To do so he planned to use the seat in the National Assembly the Pact automatically gives ex-presidents…No one would have predicted that Enrique Bolaños [Alemán’s vice-president] would begin an anti-corruption campaign and try to organize an anti-Alemán movement” (page 167). Describes the charges (pages 173-177). “More critical to both Alemán and Nicaragua’s current government is the ‘huaca’…The prosecutor of this case…underlined the role of the Nicaraguan Democratic Foundation (FDN), incorporated in Panama, in laying out his charges. The original FDN was established by the PLC in the early 1990s to raise money among Nicaraguans in Miami. The Panamanian version, however, appears to be a distinct entity” (page 176). “Alemán’s first line of defense was to stonewall…But the caudillo and his troops also took the offensive implicating Bolaños and other members of the administration in the corruption scandal. At issue here was campaign financing in 2001 for PLC candidates from the Panama-based FDN, which violated the electoral law. The plan may have been to annul the 2001 elections, necessitating a new round for which Alemán would have been eligible. However, Bolaños made public his books, which showed that he had received no money from the FDN” (page 177).

Hodgson D. 2002: “Liberal council members in the RAAS…began to identify themselves as the Ethnic Liberal Bench…(T)hey approached the 14-member FSLN bench and the 2-member YATAMA bench, both of which were amenable to an alliance…Their stated objective is to coordinate with President Bolaños in the fight against corruption, and especially in the implementation of the Autonomy Statute to create a National Multiethnic State of Unity in Diversity, in which coast people enjoy full participation…To that end, the three benches formed what they are calling the Strategic Pro-Autonomy Alliance” (page 37).

NotiCen September 12, 2002: “On Aug. 19, four members of the [CSE] refused to travel to Bluefields on the Atlantic Coast to certify the results of an election there that would have ushered into the Consejo Regional del Atlantico Sur (RAAS) a new slate of regional leaders. The conflict has stalled payments from the central government and has renewed separatist sentiments...The newly elected officials would have created a new political balance between the [FSLN] and the country’s ruling party, the [PLC]. The four CSE magistrates were PLC partisans...(O)n Aug. 23...a contingent of FSLN-affiliated magistrates...swore in 26 council members, elected a new directorate of the Regional Council, and tended to related business” (LADB).

Pérez-Baltodano 2004: “On August 7, 2002, Arnoldo Alemán and several members of his family and government were formally accused by the new administration of Enrique Bolaños of the misappropriation of more than one hundred million dollars” (page 87).

September

Close 2004a: “Alemán suffered a serious blow on September 19, 2002 when he lost control of the National Assembly” (page 177).

Keesing’s record of world events September 2002: “The National Assembly...voted by a narrow margin of 48 votes to 47 on Sept. 19 to dismiss Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, the former President of Nicaragua (1997-2001) from the post of President of the National Assembly.  The deputies who attended also voted to dismiss the legislature’s entire leadership committee, which was dominated by the pro-Alemán faction of the ruling centre-right Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC).  The majority in favour of the dismissals was composed of the faction of the PLC loyal to President Enrique Bolaños and of members of the opposition Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)...The proceedings were boycotted by 44 members of the legislature who were loyal to the former President.  The dismissal meant that Alemán would not be able to invoke parliamentary immunity to avoid being prosecuted on embezzlement charges brought against him in August. Alemán denounced the vote as illegal and said that he would appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn it.  His dismissal followed the conviction earlier in the month of 10 of his relatives and associates (some in absentia) on money laundering and embezzlement charges” (electronic edition). 

November

Close 2004: “A November [2002] Supreme Court ruling declared parts of the [1996] electoral law reforms unconstitutional” (page 15).

December

Central America report 24 January 2003: “On December 13, Arnoldo Alemán became the first president in the history of Nicaragua to be arrested. Alemán was immediately placed under house arrest on corruption charges” (page 1).

Close 2004a: “(O)n December 12, 2002, a majority of Assembly votes swung against Alemán, stripping him of his parliamentary immunity. He was rapidly charged, tried, and placed under house arrest” (pages 177-178).

Country profile. Nicaragua 2003: “(I)n December 2002, the Assembly stripped Mr Alemán of his parliamentary immunity and he was placed under house arrest. While confined, Mr Alemán has managed to maintain control of the PLC, continuing to deprive Mr Bolaños of a legislative majority” (page 8).

2003

Central America report 1 August 2003: “The differences with the PLC led to the creation of the Liberal Unity party (UL), which is being organized and directed from the Presidency. The UL is comprised of over seven parties with little electoral representation, plus PLC dissidents” (page 7).

February

Country profile. Nicaragua 2003: “In February 2003, the PLC declared itself in opposition to the Bolaños government. In order to govern, Mr Bolaños has had to rely on tactical alliances between the nine-member Blanco y Azul…bench of deputies, most of whom split from the PLC to support him, and the opposition Sandinistas” (page 8). “Mr Bolaños has vowed to work to dismantle the 2000 constitutional pact between the PLC and FSLN in order to boost political competition and transparency. However, between them Mr Alemán and Mr Ortega still control the Assembly votes needed to pass constitutional reform initiatives, posing an uphill battle to any would-be reformer” (page 12).

March

Keesing’s record of world events April 2003: “In a dramatic development, 40 [PLC] members of the National Assembly...voted at an extraordinary meeting on March 23 to join the ranks of the opposition and to cut their ties with President Enrique Bolaños, who had fought and won the election of November 2001 as the party’s presidential candidate.  The departure of the majority of the PLC legislators to the opposition benches meant that the government could count on the support of just a handful of legislators who were loyal to the President’s ‘Azul y Blanco’...faction of the PLC” (electronic edition).  

May

Keesing’s record of world events May 2003: “It was reported on May 20 that President Enrique Bolaños had announced that he would resign from the ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) in order to launch a new liberal party.  In a setback for the President, however, several senior Cabinet Ministers including Vice President José Rizo Castellón and the Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Eduardo Montealegre Rivas, announced during the month that they did not intend to follow the President’s lead by resigning from the PLC” (electronic edition). 

June

Country profile. Nicaragua 2003: “The PLC and FSLN combined their votes in June 2003 to fill nine vacancies for justices on the Supreme Court, ensuring that their vested interests would be secure” (page 12).

August

Central America report 22 August 2003: “On August 11, Judge Juana Méndez…ordered Alemán to be transferred from his private ranch El Chile, where he had spent his period of house arrest, to a jail in the Department of Criminal Investigations. The same day, US attorney Gerald Simms, presented a request to begin legal proceedings against Alemán for money laundering…On August 12, the Central American Court of Justice ruled that Alemán will not receive immunity as a result of his membership in the Central American Parliament” (pages 1-2).

September

Central America report 5 September 2003: “Nicaragua’s president will present his National Plan for Development on September 12…The Plan includes proposals for electoral reform and the reduction of electoral, judicial, and legislative magistrates” (page 8). Describes reforms contained in the Plan.

November

Central America report 21 November 2003: “Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega recently proposed to combine next year’s municipal elections with the 2006 presidential elections, arguing that the money saved could be used to increase teachers’ salaries and meet the budget demands of the nation’s universities. Political opponents and activists are sure that there is an electoral strategy behind the plan, but no-one can agree what the Sandinistas are really up to…Both the Somoza dictatorship and Sandinista revolutionary government were characterized by a high level of centralization. The recent proposal by the FSLN could be an attempt to move political power back towards a centralized party structure, and consolidate gains made in the 2000 municipal elections” (page 6).

Central America report 28 November 2003: “Less than three months after Alemán was sent to jail to await the outcome of his corruption trial, a judge ruled that the former president should be released and placed under municipal arrest…The news has caused uproar in Nicaragua with everyone…expressing their belief that the decision was the result of a politicized judiciary and a Sandinista PLC deal” (page 1).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 16 December 2003: “On 26 November, Alemán was released from prison and put under house arrest on El Chile estate” (Latinnews.com).

December

Central America report 5 December 2003: “A pact between the [FSLN] and the [PLC] brought its first results last week with the release from prison of former president and PLC leader Arnoldo Alemán…The reaction from the international community to the pact was swift. The US withdrew US$49 million support from programs aimed at strengthening the judiciary and congress…FSLN leader Daniel Ortega has now made public his allegiance with the [PLC], justifying the pact as a national defense against the insurrectionist threat presented by the US, which he claims is trying to sideline the FSLN in national politics. The support given by the US government to Bolaños’ campaign to bring former president Arnoldo Alemán to trial on corruption charges has created common ground between the Sandinistas and Liberal party politicians loyal to Alemán, leaving the Bolaños government weakened” (page 8).

Central America report 9 January 2004: “On December 5, Judge Juana Méndez sentenced former president Arnoldo Alemán to a 20-year jail term, finding him guilty of the crimes of fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, illegal association and electoral fraud against the state and the Nicaraguan society…The ruling abruptly ended the brief romance between the FSLN and the PLC…The PLC has already blocked the new municipal electoral law, which was being pursued by the FSLN” (page 3).

Keesing’s record of world events December 2003: “Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, 57, the former Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) President of Nicaragua (1997-2002), was on Dec. 7 convicted on charges of fraud, money laundering, and theft of state funds” (electronic edition).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 16 December 2003: “The US State Department immediately dubbed Alemán’s release ‘a politically manipulated decision’ and condemned Nicaragua’s judicial system as ‘corrupt and politicized’…Given that [judge] Méndez has frequently been branded a Sandinista sympathizer, Alemán’s release was interpreted as part of a political pact between the PLC and the opposition Sandinistas” (Latinnews.com).

2004

Country report. Nicaragua July 2004: “(A)n evangelical rival party [to the CCN], the Alternativa Cristiana (AC),...is trying to field its own candidates for mayoral positions across the country” (page 17).

Country report. Nicaragua October 2004: “Since the start of 2004, the power struggle between the two largest parties in Congress, the [PLC] and the [FSLN] has caused severe delays in the implementation of the legislative agenda of Enrique Bolaños Geyer. Both parties oppose the government and together they control 80 out of 92 seats in the legislature” (page 12). “In mid-2004, the two leaders [Alemán and Ortega] unexpectedly began behind-the-scenes talks over the renewal of the 2000 pact. These talks are now said to be at an advanced stage. The political pact made in 2000 must either be renewed or allowed to expire by March 2005” (page 13).

Téllez 2004: “At least one result of the upcoming municipal elections is already predictable: it will reduce the spectrum of political parties. In the last municipal elections, only four national parties plus a couple of regional parties on the Caribbean Coast were permitted to participate thanks to the FSLN-PLC pact. But earlier this year the Supreme Electoral Council finally lifted the imposed restrictions and we again have some 40 parties. After these elections, only a dozen or so will be left, because those who aren’t participating will lose their legal status, and the current Electoral Law makes it so hard and so expensive to create a new party that it almost forecloses on anyone doing it” (page 13). Lists the parties that the author thinks will survive.

January

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 20 January 2004: “The opposition Sandinistas have been excluded from the shareout of posts in the leadership of the national assembly after a deal was cut between the liberals loyal to imprisoned former president Arnoldo Alemán and those loyal to President Enrique Bolaños…The Sandinistas…claim that the US manipulated the result…Another blow to the Sandinistas is that municipal elections will go ahead this November as planned, despite their efforts to postpone them until 2006 to coincide with presidential elections” (Latinnews.com).

February

Central America report 27 February 2004: “On February 10, PLC legislators announced a bill, which if passed, would secure freedom for Alemán and other current and former government officials accused or convicted of crimes against the state since March 1990…Their efforts have been stifled however, by an alliance between the once revolutionary Sandinista party and the right-wing Blue and White bench” (page 3).

Central America report July 9 2004: “In early February, the Mayor of Managua, Herty Lewites, announced his interest in becoming the FSLN’s candidate for the presidency” (page 9).

Central America report 16 July 2004: The GUL is “the newly named ruling party formed by PLC dissidents, including Bolaños, in February 2004” (page 7).

March

Central America report 2 April 2004: “Despite the protests from the judges aligned with the [PLC], Sandinista judges from the Managua Appeals Court issued a transfer order on March 12 for former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Alemán, removing him from house arrest and sending him to…the country’s largest prison” (page 1).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 23 March 2004: “On 10 March, the top four officials of the national assembly, all pro-Alemán Liberals, finally decided that they would give up on their efforts to push legislation to secure his release, or grant an amnesty to him and the officials of his administration who face corruption charges. The pro-Alemán Liberals were left with very little option after the small Azul y Blanco Liberal faction that supports President Enrique Bolaños teamed up with the opposition Sandinistas and other swing voters in congress and threatened to remove the pro-Alemán Liberals from all positions of power in the assembly if they persisted in their efforts to free the former president” (Latinnews.com).

April

Central America report 30 April 2004: “On April 14 pro-Sandinista judge Juana Méndez announced in a press conference that she would summon the president to testify on charges of electoral fraud. Bolaños, sensing that his administration was being threatened, warned Ortega and Alemán that he would not allow them to violate the constitutional order. He also assured that he would not resign his post” (page 4). “Bolaños met with Ortega on April 16…[and] appeared confident after his conversation with Ortega. In the negotiations, the FSLN resolved not to cut short Bolaños’ presidential period and to allow the municipal elections to go ahead…In return, Bolaños promised to support the FSLN in restructuring the leadership of the national parliament…Ortega is seeking to obtain a parliamentary majority by drawing several deputies away from the PLC, a party that, after the meetings between Ortega and Bolaños and the jailing of its leader, has begun to lose control over the country’s political agenda” (page 5).

Central America report 9 July 2004: “Martínez Cuenca, ex-Director of the Foreign Commerce Institute during the Sandinista government, announced in April that he is going to challenge Ortega in primary elections. With Ortega’s popularity declining in recent months, this may help Martínez achieve the candidacy for the 2006 presidential election…[Martínez] lost in the January 2001 primary against Daniel Ortega…The Martínez candidacy is a sign of the differences within the FSLN; a sector within the party, critical of Ortega, proposes a new figure to represent their interests. Ortega has been the party’s leader and only presidential candidate since the 1980s” (page 4).

May

Central America report 9 July 2004: “Lewites has been subjected to strong criticism from the FSLN members aligned with Ortega” (page 5). Describes attacks.

Country report. Nicaragua July 2004: “(T)he 45-member Regional Councils in both the South and North Atlantic voted in early May to reconfirm or change the governing authorities and leadership bodies of the Councils themselves. This procedure, which occurs two years into the Councils’ four-year terms, resulted in existing alliances being reinforced” (page 15). “Mr Ortega suddenly announced in May that he would run as the FSLN’s presidential candidate in 2006, despite consecutive defeats in the presidential election[s] in 1990, 1996 and 2001...(T)he recent emergence of Managua’s mayor until the end of his term in January 2005, Herty Lewites, as a potential rival for the FSLN presidential nomination, prompted Mr Ortega to act...As in previous elections, several groups of minor parties joined up in May in an attempt to present alternatives to the dominant PLC and FSLN. The more significant of these groups, the Alianza para la República (APRE), unites the pro-government bench, Azul y Blanco...with other political forces. Until recently it was known as the Gran Unión Liberal (GUL), but it united with and assumed the name of an existing Liberal splinter group, the Partido Liberal 1913, in order to gain official recognition from the...CSE. Just before its unveiling on May 25 th, three other small parties...[MUN, MDN, and PSC joined] the alliance” (page 16). “At the end of May, two other alliances were also approved [by the CSE]. The Alianza Nacional Democrática (AND)...is made up of the small Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI), and other Liberal splinter groups...The other alliance was Convergencia Nacional, formed by the FSLN with an array of small party figures who have accompanied the Sandinistas since 2001” (page 17).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 22 June 2004: “President Enrique Bolaños has put together a new alliance of six political parties to contest the municipal elections. The new Alianza por la República (AR) was launched on 26 May, with Bolaños in attendance as ‘witness of honour.’ The members are the Gran Unión Liberal (GUL, pro-Bolaños), Partido Conservador, Partido Social Cristiano, Movimiento Democrático Nicaragüense, Movimiento de Unidad Nacional and Partido Liberal 1913. There are also signs that Bolaños has been attempting to effect a rapprochement with the PLC…The next stage would presumably be an alliance between the AR and the PLC that would enable Bolaños to break his uneasy alliance with the Sandinistas” (Latinnews.com).

NotiCen June 6, 2004: The “new party, the Alianza por la Republica (Apre)...is more an agglomeration of existing parties,...but intended to endure as a party, not just a coalition...In a move unprecedented in Nicaraguan politics Bolanos, a member of the PLC, last week attended the Alianza’s official inauguration as a party and said the movement would help depoliticize state institutions such as the Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) and the [CSE]...Bolanos has, as president, fought harder for survival against the Arnoldistas, the PLC faction loyal to ex-president Arnoldo Aleman, than against the opposition” (LADB).

June

Central America report 9 July 2004: “Following the recent decision of Managua Mayor Herty Lewites to remove himself from the [presidential] race, Martínez is the strongest challenger to Ortega, although his odds are slim” (page 4).

Country report. Nicaragua July 2004: “Preparations for the municipal elections are moving forward...Mr Alemán...has managed to maintain his grip over the PLC party apparatus according to the party’s nominations for mayoral candidates. As occurred for the municipal contest in 2000, Mr Alemán brusquely imposed candidates in important departments over the wishes of local party bodies, violating agreements whereby the nominees were to be chosen through a democratic procedure” (page 15).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 22 June 2004: “Being mayor of Managua is almost like a rite of passage for presidential aspirants…[Edén] Pastora’s candidacy [for mayor] is being backed by an alliance of small political parties, including the [ADN], the [PLI], the Partido Centroamericano, Partido Neoliberal and the [PAC]” (Latinnews.com).

July

Central America report 16 July 2004: “Despite remaining in jail, former president Doctor Arnoldo Alemán dominated the [PLC] Convention held on July 11. With most dissidents and outcast members of the party failing to attend, the PLC appointed mayors and assistant mayors for the country’s 152 municipalities” (page 7).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 20 July 2004: “ Nicaragua’s largest political party, the [PLC], will not strike a pact with President Enrique Bolaños in a bid to defeat the [FSLN] in the municipal elections on 7 November. The PLC confirmed its opposition to the Bolaños government at a party convention on 11 July…The US embassy has been trying to effect a reconciliation between the PLC and Bolaños to thwart the FSLN for months” (Latinnews.com).

August

Central America report 17 September 2004: “(T)he Voter Identification Office of the CSE in mid August reported that some 80,000 new voters have been registered to take part in the upcoming elections” (page 7).

September

Grigsby Vado 2004: “The campaign officially opens on September 26, 42 days before election day, but all of the parties and alliances started producing different kinds of propaganda months ago in an effort to win over the undecided…There will be 10,477 voting stations, with a maximum of 400 voters assigned to each and an average of 316. Among the 3,306,305 eligible voters, over 300,000 will vote for the first time this year, either because they were under the legal voting age of 16 during the last elections or because they only managed to get their voter registration card in time to participate this time around” (page 22). “Departmental and municipal capitals with over 40,000 inhabitants” (page 23). Gives municipality, governing party, population, and registered voters.

October

Central America report 29 October 2004: “On October 8 the Republic’s Treasury Inspector’s Office (CRG) sent an impeachment request to the National Assembly against president Enrique Bolaños. The CRG accuses Bolaños of channeling 2001 election campaign funds through the Nicaraguan Democratic Foundation, which was created by ex president Arnoldo Alemán to ‘clean’ money siphoned from the state…The decision to impeach is now in the hands of the Legislative Assembly, which is controlled by the [FSLN] and the [PLC]. Both parties have made it clear that a commission to investigate the case against the president will be postponed until after the municipal elections of November 7” (page 1).

Country report. Nicaragua October 2004: “In early October, Eduardo Montealegre, the secretary of the presidency, resigned his government post to work for change in the PLC...If Mr Montealegre succeeds in increasing his influence in the party, he will use his new position...to present himself as the PLC’s candidate in the 2006 presidential race” (page 14).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 19 October 2004: “Bolaños claims that he was the victim of a conspiracy…The comptroller’s office is not an independent body. Like the rest of the judiciary it has been stacked by the Sandinistas and Liberals. There are five comptrollers: two from the FSLN, three from the PLC…If Bolaños were removed from power he would be replaced by his vice-president, José Rizo. Rizo is scarcely on speaking terms with Bolaños and is sympathetic to the Liberals” (Latinnews.com).

Nitlapán-Envío Team 2004: On October 7 “the Office of Comptroller General issued a resolution requesting not that the legislative body impeach President Bolaños, which would imply due process, but simply that it remove him from office. Bereft of any significant party backing, President Bolaños appealed to society, but society is sick of being appealed to without ever being taken into account” (page 1). “Herty Lewites is indisputably Daniel Ortega’s major challenger in the FSLN camp…Ignoring the campaigns from the Ortega circle to disparage him,…Lewites continues to insist on sharing the FSLN ticket with the party’s general secretary, either as his vice presidential running mate or, in his more audacious moments, as the presidential candidate…Lewites has the backing of public opinion in the polls, the sponsorship of Humberto Ortega and the FSLN’s business grouping, and is seeing spaces open up to him and support networks emerge among previously dispersed Sandinistas who reject Ortega’s fifth consecutive candidacy, his betrayal of the revolutionary ideals and his continued control of the party. Even Enrique Bolaños backs Lewites…and Violeta Chamorro…came out for him this month. The common thread of logic running through all this support is: anybody but Daniel Ortega…In the Liberal camp, the hero of the movie is Eduardo Montealegre…Although Montealegre has not made any open statements to the effect, everybody knows he wants to run for President. The question [is] whether it will be on the PLC ticket or APRE’s…While Montealegre’s backing has various logics, the most visible is: anybody but Arnoldo Alemán” (pages 4-5).

November 7: municipal election

Central America report 19 November 2004: “(T)he Sandinistas now control 85 of the 152 municipalities and 14 of the 17 department capitals, including [ Managua]. However, the small difference between the numbers of votes registered overall for the Sandinistas and the Liberals means that both parties will share power on most Municipal Councils...(T)he abstention rate reached almost 50%, four percentage points higher than the previous municipal elections in 2000” (page 1).

Country report. Nicaragua January 2005: The “swings were produced by a relatively small shift in the overall popular vote—the FSLN increased its share of the vote by just four percentage points over the previous municipal ballot four years ago, while the share of the rival PLC dropped by a similar percentage. Turnout was low at just 47% of those registered to vote, compared with 57% in 2000. This was an important factor in the FSLN victory, as it does a better jbo of urging its supporters to vote” (page 15). “Municipal election results, Nov 2004” (page 15). A “factor in the FSLN’s showing was the party’s alliance with the Convergencia Nacional, a set of small parties and political notables who were allowed to name the FSLN’s mayoral candidates in areas where the party had previously lost elections. The new [APRE] coalition disappointed the hopes of those who wanted to see it emerge as a strong rival to the dominant parties, winning just 9% of the popular vote and four municipalities” (page 16).

Grigsby Vado 2004a: Discusses past municipal elections in the communities that comprise metropolitan Managua and forecasts possible outcomes in this election, also forecasts election results in the RAAN and RAAS. “One of the few novelties this time compared to 2000, which might help reduce the abstention rate [in the Caribbean coast], is the participation of Yatama, the party of the Miskito people, which was stopped from participating in the last municipal elections on a technicality many believe to have been an expression of the FSLN-PLC pact in the [CSE]. Generally speaking, coast people are tired of participating in elections that come around every two years at least—this is their ninth election in 14 years given that the autonomous government elections every four years are staggered with the four-year municipal elections and seldom overlap with the five-year presidential sequence. Even more to the point, they don’t feel that elections amount to much, since the national parties (which are increasingly dominating the autonomous elections as well) don’t reflect, understand or even care much about their interests while the regional parties have little influence, few resources and scant accumulated experience” (page 25).

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 16 November 2004: “Nicaragua’s leftwing opposition, the [FSLN], swept the municipal elections on 7 November…(T)hey took at least 90 [municipalities], including the all-important mayoralty of Managua, which was won by Dionisio Marenco, and 15 of the 17 department capitals…[Bolaño’s APRE] managed to muster a mere five mayoralties, including one departmental capital. It was, however, the main opposition party, the [PLC], that suffered the biggest setback…The PLC took 41 mayoralties (53 fewer than before) and only one departmental capital. Abstention hit a record high of 52%. The low turnout, especially among PLC supporters, suggests that the party’s decision to stick by Alemán, despite the fact he is serving 20 years on corruption charges, is deeply unpopular…[Daniel] Ortega insists that the municipal elections will dictate the outcome of the presidential elections in 2006 and that success in Managua will be a stepping stone to the presidency. There are good reasons to suspect this will not be the case” (Latinnews.com).

NotiCen November 11, 2004: “ Nicaragua held municipal elections on Nov. 7, the outcome of which told a story of popular disaffection, fragmentation on the right, and gains for the left...The election can be seen as a near sweep for the FSLN. The party held on to gains made in the 2000 elections and won races in traditionally PLC areas” (LADB). Gives results and possible reasons for the high abstention.

Téllez 2004: “The National Convergence is an alliance of political parties, groups and individual personalities…In the November 7 municipal elections, the Convergence will be running candidates for mayor and deputy mayor under the FSLN’s red and black banner. FSLN members will be heading the ticket as candidate for mayor in 87 of the country’s 152 municipalities, while members of the allied forces of the Convergence will be in the top slot in the other 65. Of the total 304 candidates for these top two local government posts on the FSLN ticket, 157 are from the FSLN’s allies in the Convergence. Breaking that down into its representative groupings, 13 are from the [MRS], 35 are Liberals, 13 are Conservatives, 19 are from the [MUC], 16 are from the Nicaraguan Resistance Party, 7 are from the [UDC], 4 are from the North Atlantic Autonomous Region’s indigenous movement and 50 are independent local leaders not linked to any party” (page 9). Describes negotiations that lead to the selection of candidates (pages 10-13).

November 8?

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 16 November 2004: “Buoyed by their success in the municipal elections, the Sandinistas immediately came up with a constitutional reform bill in parliament, which would trim back the president’s powers…The reform bill, which has the imprimatur of Ortega, could be the first step towards the parliamentary system for which the veteran Sandinista leader has been campaigning. On the other hand, it might be no more than a bid to limit Bolaños’s powers in the run-up to the presidential elections, which the Sandinistas are now confident of winning. In the event of this, Ortega, who has already declared that he will run for the presidency, is unlikely to favour a parliamentary system” (Latinnews.com).

November 11

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America 16 November 2004: “One good piece of news for Bolaños is that the opposition’s preoccupation with the constitutional reform bill means that efforts to impeach him have been put on hold for the time being. A senior member of the Sandinistas, Edwin Castro, said on 11 November that there was not time to set up a special parliamentary commission in compliance with a request by the comptroller-general to investigate corruption allegations surrounding Bolaños before the legislature’s current sitting ends on 15 December. It looks increasingly unlikely that Bolaños will be investigated at all. Ortega seemed to confirm this when he suggested in the wake of the municipal elections that the Sandinistas would be unlikely to back any effort to impeach the president” (Latinnews.com).

November 26

Central America report 10 December 2004: “On November 26, the National Assembly approved a series of partial reforms to the Constitution which will be ratified by the second legislative body next year. These measures, passed in record time,...curb Bolaños’ power” (page 1).

Country report. Nicaragua January 2005: “The modifications strip the executive branch of important prerogatives and curb the president’s leeway to conduct policy in various arenas. They also confer new powers upon the National Assembly, creating a confusing and potentially dsyfunctional hybrid organisation of government, which contains elements of both a presidential and a parliamentary system...These changes are the first stage of an expanded political pact between two ex-presidents, Daniel Ortega...and Arnoldo Alemán” (page 7).

December

Latin American regional reports. Caribbean & Central America January 2005: “As President Enrique Bolaños battles to keep his position, internal leadership contests are shaping up within the two main opposition parties, the [FSLN] and the [PLC]. The outcome will not only have a decisive bearing on the presidential elections in 2006 but could determine the future of Nicaragua’s traditional political system of caudillismo. The two most popular political figures in Nicaragua by some margin are the…mayor of Managua, Herty Lewites, and Bolaños’s chief of staff, Eduardo Montealegre. Several polls over the last year have confirmed as much. However, if their respective parties (the FSLN and the PLC) have their way neither man will run in the elections. Such is the grip of the party caudillos, Daniel Ortega and Arnoldo Alemán” (Latinnews.com).