Helen Yuill, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group, www.nicaraguasc.org.uk Twitter: @NSCAG_UK
Elections took place in Nicaragua on 6 November for the Presidency, 90 National Assembly, and 20 Nicaraguan members of the Central American parliament.
Preliminary results based on the count from 66% of the polling stations give the FSLN 72.1% of the vote. The highest votes for opposition parties were PLC (Constitutionalist Liberal Party) with 14% of the vote and the PLI (Independent Liberal Party) with 5%.
This low level of support for opposition parties can be partly attributed to the strength and popularity of the FSLN, but also to their own fragmentation and lack of a coherent political and economic programme.
Head of polling organisation M&R consultores, Raúl Obregon, commented: “They [opposition parties] are out of touch with the problems and needs of the people. They talk politics while the population wants to hear proposals to solve their main problems…”
In a country that has a history of war and instability and the second highest levels of poverty in the Americas, the high level of approval for the FSLN is a dramatic testimony of support for a government that has been in power for the past ten years, a government that has addressed the real problems the country faces in a volatile world.
The Sandinistas won the elections because they have made commitments and delivered on them in a way that any other government in any part of the world would be proud of.
They have delivered economic stability: in what the World Bank has described as a ‘remarkable economic turnaround’ GDP has increased by an average of four to five per cent annually, inflation has dropped to low single figures, exports have doubled and Foreign Direct Investment quadrupled.
They have delivered social stability and improved the lives of tens of thousands of people suffering chronic and persistent levels of poverty. Between 2009 and 2014, poverty dropped from 42.5% of the population to 29.6% due to government infrastructure and social programmes.
These poverty reduction programmes include free health care and education, subsidised transport, access to credit, support for rural families, security of land titles, and infrastructure improvements. Government policy has also prioritised food assistance to the most vulnerable, support for very young children, house building and repair programmes, mass health campaigns against mosquito- borne diseases, and nationwide support for sport and cultural activities.
They have delivered on safety and security: in comparison with the country’s neighbours – Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala that are among the world’s seven most violent countries – Nicaragua has a relatively low crime rate, an absence of transnational gangs, and a generally trusted police force that focuses on proactive community policing and crime prevention.
Meanwhile the US faces an unprecedented loss of confidence in democracy epitomised by elections that have descended into a tragic farce. However, in a move ominously reminiscent of the US embargo on Nicaragua of the 1980s, on 21 September the US House of Representative saw fit to pass legislation that would block loans to Nicaragua should the country fail to hold ‘free, fair and transparent elections’.
Nicaraguans have voted for peace, stability, dignity, jobs, and further improvements in their standard of living: US destabilisation will only violate these basic human desires with dangerous consequences for Nicaragua and the whole region.
Helen Yuill is speaking at this year’s Latin America Conference. The conference will be covering the latest developments in Latin America and features speakers from across the globe including: Ivan Marquez- Colombian peace deal negotiator, Paul Oquist-Nicaraguan minister for National Policy, Teresita Vicente- Cuban Ambassador and many more. Follow this link for tickets and more info. Latin America 2016 Adelante! Saturday, 26th Nov, 10AM, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS