On Sunday, November 7, Nicaraguans will vote for the president and vice-president of the country, as well as for the National Assembly and for Nicaragua’s representatives to the Central American Parliament. There has been a great deal of controversy about these elections circulating in the US and European media. One result is that the United States Congress just passed a new sanctions bill against Nicaragua (the RENACER Act) on Wednesday, November 3 in response to some of this controversy. (See here for more detail). I’m not getting into the controversy in this post - just a simple explainer about who is running.
Who is running? How does it work?
Under the election reform law published in June of 2021 (see page 3876), the Nicaraguan president is elected by a simple plurality - the candidate with the highest number of valid votes becomes president. When Parties put forward their candidates for president and vice-president, they must conform to the principle of gender equity (one of the candidates must be a woman, one a man). As you can see, in this election cycle the presidential candidates are all men, and the vice-presidential candidates are women.
The parties and their candidates for president/vice president are:
Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC)
- President; Walter Edén Espinoza Fernández.
- Vice President; Mayra Consuelo Arguello Sandoval
Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) (United Nicaragua Triumphs Alliance)
- President: Jose Daniel Ortega Saavedra
- Vice President: Rosario Maria Murillo Zambrana
Christian Path Party (CCN)
- President: Guillermo Antonio Osorno Molina
- Vice President: Violeta Janette Martinez Zapata
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance Party (ALN)
- President: Marcelo de Jesus Montiel Fernández
- Vice President: Jennyfer del Carmen Espinoza Blen
Alliance for the Republic Party (APRE)
- President: Gerson Gutierrez Gasparin
- Vice President: Claudia Maria Romero Cuadra
Independent Liberal Party (PLI)
- President: Mauricio Orue Vasquez
- Vice President: Zobeyda del Socorro Rodríguez Díaz
The National Assembly Election
There are 92 seats in the National Assembly. Like the president, the assembly is elected to 5 year terms. The seats are divided as follows:
20 seats are National Representatives elected through a system of proportional representations. Seats are assigned based on the percentage of votes cast for the party, e,g, if a party gets 50% of the vote, they get 10 of these seats. Each party submits a list of candidates; every other candidate on the list must be a woman. The seats won are then assigned by going down the list from top to bottom - if a party wins 10 seats, then the first 10 candidates on their list are given the seats.
There are 70 seats that are assigned to department and regional representation. They are assigned as follows:
- Department of Boaco (2).
- Department of Carazo (3).
- Department of Chinandega (6).
- Department of Chontales (3 ).
- Department of Estelí (3).
- Department of Granada (3 ).
- Department of Jinotega (3 ).
- Department of León (6).
- Department of Madriz (2).
- Department of Managua (19).
- Department of Masaya (4).
- Department of Matagalpa (6).
- Department of Nueva Segovia (2).
- Department of Río San Juan (1).
- Department of Rivas (2).
- Autonomous Region of the South Caribbean Coast (2).
- Autonomous Region of the North Caribbean Coast (3).
These seats are assigned in a proportional fashion as well, corresponding to the percentage of the vote each party or party alliance wins in the department or region.
All of the parties with a presidential candidate have a slate of candidates for the National Assembly. Elections for the Autonomous Regions also include the party YATAMA.
The final two seats in the assembly are reserved for the presidential candidate that comes in second, and the outgoing president (or vice president - if the president is re-elected). As Ortega and Murrillo are both running again (and likely to win), I am not clear how this seat will be handled.
Elections for the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN)
Nicaragua’s representatives to the Central American Parliament are determined through a proportional representation system similar to the process for deciding the national level representatives for the National Assembly.
There are 20 deputies elected to the Central American Parliament from each member country for 5 year terms.
The Central American Parliament is part of the System for the Integration of Central America, and is thus one of a number of institutions that have been built to enhance coordination among countries of Central America. The Parliament itself grew out of regional peace talks during the 1980s, and was launched in 1991.
Results for the elections will be presented by the Supreme Electoral Council beginning Sunday night. Voting will take place in 13,459 polling stations, with votes then tallied in 3,106 voting centers. Just under 4.5 million people have been registered to vote in the election.
There will be an international presence during the election, including a delegation of people invited by the government to accompany the process, as well as official election monitors from the European Union.