With United States presidential elections one year away, voters and candidates are already keeping a keen eye on the evolution of the presidential race. Few Americans are aware, however, that Nicaraguan’s presidential election is right around the corner—this coming Sunday, to be exact! Incumbent Daniel Ortega is a founding member of the ruling FSLN party (Sandinista National Liberation Front), and has amended the constitution to run for a third term. The FSLN is the socialist party that came to power after the Sandinista evolution of the 1970s, during which time Ortega served his first term as president.
Ortega’s opposition is divided between four candidates, two of which are supported by the majority of remaining voters. Fabio Gadea represents the PLI party, the right wing independent party that has merged with the more liberal MRS party to form an opposition coalition to the FSLN. Arnoldo Aleman is the candidate of the right wing PLN party, and previously served as one of the nation’s two PLN presidents in the 1990s.
While anticipation of the November 6th election was already apparent when we arrived in July, campaigning has now reached an all time high. Last Wednesday, we were puzzled by low attendance in our kids’ classes before learning that the FSLN had bussed all children in our area to a Managua amusement park. Sandinista rallies took place all weekend, with Ortega supporters proudly sporting t-shirts with Ortega’s youth slogan “Amor, paz, y vida,” while hanging posters throughout the community. Opposition supporters were out in full force as well, holding rallies of their own in Managua and paying door-to-door visits to garner support for the PLN and PLI. While cheering for Jesse during his Saturday soccer game, a red dog reminiscent of Clifford kept us company. We quickly deduced that the PLN had hosted a rally near the soccer field that morning, during which they opted to dye our furry friend a bright shade of PLN red.
For more information on the Nicaraguan presidential elections, we recommend the following article in Nicaragua Dispatch, an English language online Nicaraguan newspaper: http://www.nicaraguadispatch.com/politics/will-democracy-survive-elections/978