With nearly 50 percent of voter support and an 18-point lead over his nearest challenger in the most recent poll, Ortega could end up with a mandate that would not only legitimize his re-election but allow him to make constitutional changes guaranteeing perpetual re-election.
Ortega’s well on his way – readers of this blog may remember that last year he insisted that the Nicaraguan Supreme Court declare term limits unconstitutional.
Over in Guatemala, a Retired general sweeps to power in Guatemala election
A retired right-wing general promising a crackdown on violent crime won Guatemala’s presidential election on Sunday and will be the first military man to take power since democracy was restored in 1986.
Otto Perez had 54.2 percent support with results in from 98 percent of polling stations while his rival, wealthy businessman Manuel Baldizon, trailed with 45.8 percent.
Guatemala’s electoral tribunal declared Perez the winner late on Sunday, and his supporters began celebrating in the streets.
It was a clear move to the right for Central America’s largest economy and came after leftist President Alvaro Colom failed to contain violent crime or protect the country from Mexican drug cartels using it as a key smuggling route.
The LA Times writes on how the Elections in Nicaragua, Guatemala underscore threats to democracy.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Condemns Ortega’s Manipulation of Election, Democratic Process in Nicaragua
“Sunday’s so-called ‘election’ in Nicaragua was a complete sham. Daniel Ortega made sure of it.
“According to the Nicaraguan constitution, Ortega was not eligible to run for another term as President. But he forced his way onto the ballot through a corrupt scheme that trampled over Nicaraguan constitutional mandates.
“And once he forced his way onto the ballot, Ortega pulled out more tricks to make sure that he would win. He denied countless Nicaraguans the right to vote in order to stack the deck in his favor. He has clearly learned from his dictatorial buddies in the region, like Chavez, who is an expert at trampling democracy.
“Last month, I sent a letter to the Department of State urging the Administration to stand up to Ortega’s scheme to cling to power. The U.S. and other responsible nations cannot recognize the outcome of this stolen election.”
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Cross-posted in The Green Room.