The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) announced on Nov. 5 2012 that, in the local elections held on Sunday Nov. 4, the alliance headed by the Sandinista Party (FSLN) had won the mayor’s races in 134 of the country’s 153 municipalities, with the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) winning 12 and the Constitutional Liberal Party two. The regional indigenous party Yatama won in three localities and the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) won in one municipality.
CSE President Roberto Rivas said there were 2,020,192 valid votes and 70,025 ballots that were declared void. He said that the rolls contain 3,670,000 active voters which means that 55% of voters cast valid ballots.
In percentage terms, the FSLN won 67.9% of the votes, the PLI 21.1%, and the PLC 8.5%. The FSLN percentage was in between the predictions of the last CID-Gallup and M&R polls which showed 56% and 72% respectively favoring the Sandinistas.
Analysts noted that the negative critiques of the Catholic Bishops Conference and the campaigns of some non-governmental organizations and the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) against participating in the elections out of distrust of the Electoral Council damaged the turnout for the PLI because those who answered those calls to stay home were likely to vote against the Sandinistas. El Crucero, where former President Arnoldo Aleman has his hacienda and which had been a Liberal Party stronghold—until now. Under the Sandinistas, Plan Roof began giving out galvanized roofing, poor women got micro-loans or Zero Hunger Program cows and chickens, and schools and health centers opened. This time 61.19% of the votes went to the Sandinistas.
President Daniel Ortega said on election day, “I want to congratulate the thousands of Nicaraguans, youth, adults and seniors, who have come out to vote, ratifying in this manner that the path Nicaragua is on is irreversible, that never again will we have violence and confrontation in our country. Those hard years, so painful for our people, will never return and today and forever we will have a Nicaragua in peace, with wellbeing and security.”
The election accompaniment team from the Organization of American States (OAS) reported that it had observed the voting in 11 of the nation’s 17 departments. Lazaro Cardenas, chief of the mission, said that the observers had full access to the polling places and that the voting had proceeded in an atmosphere of civility. He praised the recent changes to the electoral law which mandated the alternating of men and women on the party slates saying that Nicaragua was a leader in the participation of women.
National observers’ statements following the elections varied. Telemaco Talavera, head of the officially accredited observers from the National Council of Universities (CNU), said as polls were closing on Nov. 4, that not all credentialed election board members from the PLI appeared to take their places in the precincts and those spots had to be filled with others from among the poll watchers. On Nov. 5, the CNU team noted that abstention was within the normal range for municipal elections, there was flexibility in the voting and the count was open and without problems. Other groups had different versions. The Institute for Development and Democracy (IPADE), which was not accredited to observe officially but used volunteers to report on voting around the country, said that abstention was high and a number of citizens were not able to vote because their names were not found on the voters’ list.
There was violence in several towns beginning on election day (Sunday) and continuing into Monday. In La Paz Centro riot police were unable to stop fighting between supporters of the PLI and the Sandinistas. In the town, located in the Department of Leon, protesters set fire to the local market, the old train station which was used for meetings by the Sandinistas, and (in reaction) the PLI meeting house. Things were even worse in the Department of Matagalpa, where two people were killed in fighting in Ciudad Dario, and in El Jicaro, Department of Nueva Segovia, where a Sandinista poll watcher was killed. In all, three police officers were wounded and 27 persons detained.
One opposition member, Wilfredo Navarro, a National Assembly for the PLC, critiqued the opposition saying that the parties competed “to scream at the FSLN” but without projects, programs or ideas to present in confronting a Sandinista Party that “knew how to do things.” He added, “You don’t have to be an analyst with great knowledge to have predicted what happened. The opposition did not have the capacity of the Sandinista Front, with its organization, its resources, its strategy, its continuity in the management of its programs at the municipal and national levels.” He stated, “Today I have to say clearly that it was a transparent, clean triumph of the FSLN.”
(El Nuevo Diario, Nov. 5; Informe Pastran, Nov. 4, 5; Radio La Primerisima, Nov. 5; La Prensa, Nov. 4, 5, 6; http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/11/200169.htm)