- Title: Nicaraguans go to the polls in election expected to result in easy Ortega victory
- Date: 6th November 2016
- Summary: MANAGUA, NICARAGUA (NOVEMBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) VOTERS STANDING IN LINE AT VOTING STATION SECURITY GUARD WATCHING VOTING STATION VARIOUS OF VOTERS IN LINE VOTER HOLDING HER IDENTIFICATION CARD (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VOTER, AZUCENA DELGADO, SAYING: "I want him [Daniel Ortega] to comply with what he has promised. The thing is, it has always been the same thing. It can't be only promises as it has been in previous governments. That's what we all hope for. That Nicaragua continues moving forward, that everything continues peacefully, that things continue progressing." VARIOUS OF VOTERS CHECKING VOTER LISTS WOMAN HOLDING ID CARD UP TO VOTER LIST AS SHE SEARCHES FOR HER NAME (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VOTER, CORINA MEJIA, SAYING: "In peace, work - there is concern in our house for work because now unemployment is rather high so we are hoping for a lot of work - for the adults as well as for the youth." VOTERS STANDING IN LINE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VOTER, CARLOS PAVON, SAYING: "I hope it stays peaceful like it is - that everything goes peacefully, so that the country can continue as it is - in peace, with progress." VOTERS IN LINE INSIDE VOTING CENTER VOTER AT VOTING TABLE BALLOT SHOWING CURRENT PRESIDENT DANIEL ORTEGA ELECTION WORKER FILLING OUT PAPERWORK ELECTION WORKER HOLDING UP BALLOT WOMAN FILLING OUT BALLOT BEHIND SCREEN WOMAN DEPOSITING VOTE IN BALLOT BOX ELECTION WORKER HOLDING UP BALLOT MAN FILLING OUT BALLOT BEHIND SCREEN ELECTION WORKER INKING VOTER'S FINGER VOTERS IN LINE
- Embargoed: 21st November 2016 16:20
- Keywords: Daniel Ortega FSLN Sandinista
- Location: MANAGUA, NICARAGUA
- City: MANAGUA, NICARAGUA
- Country: Nicaragua
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00157B3BK7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Former Marxist guerrilla leader Daniel Ortega is expected to easily clinch a third consecutive term as president of Nicaragua on Sunday (November 6), buoyed by steady economic growth that has trumped fears he is trying to install autocratic family rule.
Ortega and his running mate, his wife Rosario Murillo, have nearly 70 percent support, according to a recent poll, tapping into strong voter approval for a drop in poverty in one of the poorest countries in the Americas since he took office in 2007.
Voters lined up at the polls early on Sunday. Voter Azucena Delgado said she hopes Ortega keeps his promises.
"I want him [Daniel Ortega] to comply with what he has promised. The thing is, it has always been the same thing. It can't be only promises as it has been in previous governments. That's what we all hope for. That Nicaragua continues moving forward, that everything continues peacefully, that things continue progressing," she said.
Another voter, Corina Mejia, hopes the next administration can generate job growth.
"In peace, work - there is concern in our house for work because now unemployment is rather high so we are hoping for a lot of work - for the adults as well as for the youth," he said.
Emerging as leader of the Sandinista movement that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, Ortega served one term as president in the 1980s before being sidelined for years.
By the time he won Nicaragua's 2006 election, he had moved far enough from his Marxist roots to talk about Jesus Christ in his speeches.
Opponents have accused Ortega of trying to set up a "family dictatorship" since he appointed relatives to key posts, and after his Sandinistas pushed constitutional changes through Congress that ended presidential term limits in 2014.
There is certainly no obvious challenger.
The opposition has been in disarray since Pedro Reyes used the courts to wrest leadership of the Independent Liberal Party (PLI), the main group, from Eduardo Montealegre in June.
PLI congressmen who refused to accept the decision, calling Reyes a puppet of Ortega, were dismissed.
Hernan Selva, a 22-year-old engineering student and Ortega supporter, dismissed as "the kicks of a drowning man" the complaints by Rodriguez, who fought the Sandinistas in the 1980s as part of a right-wing paramilitary force known as the Contras.
U.S. and international organizations voiced concern about Montealegre's ouster and Ortega's refusal to host international observers for the vote. Still, the World Bank acknowledges that under Ortega, poverty has fallen almost 13 percentage points.
Ortega, who has made few campaign appearances, has promised to defend his social and economic achievements if he wins.
A substantial part of those gains have been funded by Venezuelan petrodollars that have underpinned social programs, helped private business, and slashed energy costs.
Ortega has also forged alliances with entrepreneurs, helping Nicaragua to achieve average growth of 5 percent in the past five years, buttressed by high prices for its meat, coffee and gold exports, as well as remittances and foreign investment.
Despite some ups and downs, Ortega and U.S. President Barack Obama have maintained a relatively cordial relationship, demonstrating 70-year-old Ortega's dramatic shift from a leftist firebrand to a diplomat who maintains ties with a Cold War foe.
But democracy remains a touchy subject.
A U.S. bill known as the Nica Act seeks to condition financial assistance to Nicaragua on improvements in democracy, human rights, and battling anti-corruption, leading Ortega's government to decry "interference" from Washington in September.
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