EU report blasts election process

EU’s Election Observation Mission report details Nicaragua’s busted electoral system

The sullied electoral process that led to President Daniel Ortega’s controversial reelection last November was tainted from soup to nuts, according to the final report by the EU’s Election Observation Mission.

“The Nov. 6 elections constituted a deterioration in the democratic quality of Nicaraguan electoral processes, due to the lack of transparency and neutrality with which they were administered by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE),” the EU mission’s report reads, tskingly.

The report, released today in Managua by EU mission chief Luis Yáñez, a socialist parliamentarian from Spain, chronicles the folly of a polluted election system that was managed by an opaque, amateurish and clodpated CSE, which the EU says “displayed a regrettable lack of neutrality.”

Indeed, the EU mission’s report reads like a how-to handbook for organizing a banana republic democracy.

“The CSE, at every level, demonstrated scant independence from the ruling party and created unequal conditions for competition as well as outright obstructions to the opposition, who were prevented from having any effective representation within the election administration.”

The election process started on the wrong foot, and got worse from there, according to the EU mission.

“The trend for opacity became ever more pronounced as the electoral process advanced,” the report reads. “Instances of poor transparency included the refusal to accredit critical national observation missions; the obstacles and delays in the accreditation process for opposition party agents; the scant and tardy sharing of information regarding the format of official results forms and procedural manuals; the unusable quality of copies of official forms reserved for opposition parties; the practical inability of party agents to follow the results aggregation process; and the failure to publish results disaggregated by polling station, despite this being of direct relevance to citizens, political parties and civil society so that they may verify the accuracy of results.”

Not only is Nicaragua’s electoral system broken, it’s also sluggish, lumpen and resistant to betterment, the report says.

“The Nicaraguan legal framework for elections, practically unchanged since the general elections of 2001 and 2006, is adequate for holding democratic elections. Nonetheless, it is marred by some significant weaknesses, already outlined in previous European Union election observation mission reports, particularly with respect to legislation regulating political parties,” the report reads.

“The EU (mission) regrets that recommendations in this regard formulated by the 2001 and 2006 missions have not been reflected in reforms.”

The mismanagement of the busted electoral system by the CSE and the Supreme Court makes the situation even more blunderous, according to the EU mission.

“The electoral law’s ambiguous and cumbersome regulation regarding the legal representation and legal status of political parties is exacerbated by the significant powers it attributes to the CSE to rule on parties’ internal disputes, opening the door to excessive interference by the CSE and even the Supreme Court of Justice, which has affected political parties’ stability and had serious political consequences,” the report reads.

The EU mission notes that the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), which had its legal status stripped by the CSE in 2008, has still not received any response to the appeal it made to the Supreme Court four years ago.

The report also questions the manner in which Ortega and his high-court comrades sidestepped the Constitution to allow the Sandinista leader to run for reelection last year, despite being banned by Article 147.

“Following a procedurally flawed process, President Daniel Ortega’s candidacy was declared to be constitutional by the Constitutional Chamber of the CSJ,” the report says.

Election day itself displayed the same tendency towards entropy.

“Election day unfolded in a peaceful manner, but was marred by inconsistent application of safeguards and transparency measures, as well as a context which made it difficult for opposition party agents to carry out their work,” the EU mission found. “These negative factors became increasingly evident over the course of the day, such that counting of votes and the beginning of aggregation of results on election night were particularly characterized by irregularities an absolute lack of transparency characterized the aggregation and publication of results, marking a serious deterioration in the quality of the electoral process.”

While the EU mission did not contest Ortega’s victory, it made it pretty clear that the process that led to his reelection bordered on cartoonish. Indeed, the EU followed up on its observations with 24 suggested reforms that Nicaragua needs to make to its beleaguered electoral system.

The opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) claims the EU report calls into question all the results of the election, and makes Ortega’s victory “illegitimate.”

The Sandinistas, meanwhile, appeared unruffled by the increasing international concerns about the state of Nicaragua’s democracy.

Sandinista official Jacinto Suarez responded to the EU mission’s report with party boilerplate about Nicaragua being a sovereign country that doesn’t have to listen to anyone. CSE chieftain Roberto Rivas, meanwhile, questioned the seriousness of the EU.

The EU, however, does appear serious. Germany has already announced it is pulling its aid to Nicaragua as a result of the elections, and Finland is expected to follow suit in the coming days.

The EU report is the third international admonishment of Nicaragua’s elections, following earlier reports by the Organization of American States and strong criticism from the U.S. State Department.

  • Nick

    Wailing about procedure. From countries with a trail of practicing democracy based on rulers who still live in castles.

    Soup to nuts…. like that line.
    As if they over there have never manipulated democracy to their own ends.

    So what happened actually in Nicaragua is as follows….

    Point 1. Change constitution to allow re-election via Supreme Court.
    Point 2. Do things that make extremely poor people get to the point of being poor.
    Point 3. Do things that make poor people less poor.
    Point 4. Do things that make the rich not get richer.

    It’s no wonder that no pyramids were built here. It IS Nicaragua. Had there been such construction, those pyramids would have been inverted.

    The poor get less poor and the rich don’t get richer.

    Is this… perhaps… an exemplar?

    WELCOME to Nicaragua topsy turvy.

  • Pedro Arauz

    How and why Goebbels landed in Pensilvania Avenue…

    How Go Media Matters, the left-wing media watchdog, has had a rough time of late. Notwithstanding its mission of “comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” it is Media Matters that has come under withering media scrutiny.
    Prominent columnists like the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne have been among the most receptive to Media Matters spin. Indeed, as a follow-up investigation by Front Page shows, it is remarkably easy to trace a direct line from Media Matters to Dionne. In March 2007, Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert charged that Republicans and Fox News were waging “a smear campaign against NPR.” Dionne clearly got the message, because just a few months later he was reprising the charge of a Fox News “smear campaign against NPR” during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press and denouncing Fox as a “Republican propaganda network.”.

    One likely subject of conversation at these strategy sessions is the $20 million spending spree that Media Matters plans to undertake to influence media coverage prior to the 2012 election – double the organization’s reported $10 million annual budget. How that money will be spent is not clear, but one possible clue comes from David Brock’s pledge last spring that he plans to enlist Media Matters into a campaign of “guerilla warfare and sabotage” against Fox News. Some Media Matters staffers interpreted the statement as a sign of Brock’s well-known paranoia and mental instability, but it may also have been a statement of intent. According to the Daily Caller, Brock’s animus against Fox was so extreme that Media Matters considered harassing individual Fox News employees at their homes, hiring private investigators to look into their private lives and hiring a law firm to pursue law suits against the network. Brock shows no sign of abandoning his obsession with Fox. Next week, he and co-author Ari Rabin-Havt are releasing a book that sounds a standard Media Matters theme: The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine.

    The irony is that, with its outsize influence on the mainstream media and its direct access to the White House, Media Matters is arguably more influential than its nemesis network. As the 2012 election begins in earnest, Media Matters will try to use that leverage to fashion a media landscape favorable to its brand of partisan opposition research disguised as media criticism.

    • http://no Janine udekamp

      what does this comment have to do with this article? No relevance. By the way Pedro: Fox news is the devil! How can you take them seriously.

      I do agree that US politics is tainted by money! So this means money first and people second. My 15 year old explained it to me like that. Sensible and accurate. Now, If only the majority in US would grow up.

      • sayayuca

        It has nothing to do with the article, Pedro just copied and pasted that from some other source. To think that he wrote it is to give him a credit he doesn’t deserve.

  • http://no Leonidas Arcia

    “The EU (mission) regrets that recommendations in this regard formulated by the 2001 and 2006 missions have not been reflected in reforms.”

    Leading to the 2001 elections => PLC with Aleman Liberal government. Leading to the 2006 elections => Bolanos which is also a liberal government. They have not done anything about it. And now they all cry fraud….seriously. It says a lot.

    The main difference is that now the leftwing sandinistas won for a second time but they need to explain why there were irregularities. “While the EU mission did not contest Ortega’s victory” words are still carefully chosen to make them look like dictatorial idiots.

    Double standards for self interests!

  • http://no Juan Carlos

    Sin embargo en parte inferior de la primera página del documento de la Misión de Observación Unión Europea dice que el contenido de ese informe no ha sido aprobado en forma alguna por ese organismo multilateral, además señala que no acepta responsabilidad alguna por cualquier uso que se pudiera hacer del mismo.

    Al respecto, el magistrado presidente del Consejo Supremo Electoral, Roberto Rivas afirmo que no ha leído el informe del señor Yáñez, sin embargo señaló que lo que se puede esperar de un informe técnico es sencillamente de que traten de justificar que se hizo un trabajo acá en Nicaragua.

    Añadió que ese documento es como los informes de las auditorías que siempre encuentran puntos cuestionables y añadió “espero que hayan recogido el esfuerzo que hicimos por darles las identificaciones a los fiscales de las Juntas Receptoras de Votos de la Alianza PLI, donde estuvo presente el delegado de la Unión Europea”.

    “Espero que recojan en el informe que se dio en la cancillería, donde se leyó junta por junta el detalle de las famosos 10 juntas en las que hablaba la OEA de que no pudo ingresar, pero que al final terminaron ingresando y pudieron tener la información”, destacó el magistrado Rivas.

    Recordó al mismo tiempo que los representantes de la UE acreditados ante el CSE en el centro de cómputos, tuvieron la oportunidad de ver junta por junta, hacer la sumatoria correspondiente, al igual que los fiscales de los partidos políticos, que se supone que recogieron toda la información de cada centro de votación y les tiene que dar igual a lo que tiene el Consejo.

    Destacó además que el sistema electoral vigente, fue hecho en los años 1995 y 1996 por los que hoy están en la sociedad civil y no fue cuestionado cuando salió electo el Presidente Arnoldo Alemán ni cuando salió electo el presidente Enrique Bolaños, ni cuando salieron electos los alcaldes del 2000, ¿por qué hoy va a ser malo el sistema electoral?, se preguntó.

  • Christian

    According to END (www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/politica/242656) Roberto Rivas commented that observers are like auditors; “they will always find a hair in the soup”. From the long list of comments reflected in the EU-report, it seems to me they found an entire wig…

  • James Banks

    For the most part, all europeans here, are from a system of Social Democracy which, while imperfect in many respects, was still adopted in europe as a direct result of the dictatorships and madness of the early 20th Century, where europe lay totally destroyed as a result.
    It is with enormous sadness that we see the same megalomania and bullying cult of personality on a miniature scale here (and also presently in other Latin American countries), though at the moment still relatively benign in terms of armed force. The same spiral of danger is never far away when politicians can manipulate and corrupt the system at will for their own ends. When impartiality of the judicial system and policy making is replaced by vested and corrupt interests.
    If you think this is any kind of social democracy you are mistaken.
    It is neither inclusive, nor is it proactive in combating rampant capitalism.
    It is simply corrupt and gangsterish in its implimentation.
    It tolerates little dissent, and is paranoid in its world view.
    How can european countries give aid to such a system, when clearly it is leading down such a dangerous and malevolent road ?

  • Nick

    in response to the responses…
    Fascism is naciente but it takes eggs being broken and people ready to fry them and eat them.
    Roberto Rivas is a caricature of a joke. He should write a book called Finances Management for Dummies. With a nominal salary of U$5000 a month he can buy up properties, remodel them, and fly to them in his personal aircraft of choice.
    I still wonder how long it will take for those who really are in power to melt the wax in his wings as he flies closer to the Sun.
    That bastard son of a catholic cardinal should only have privilege at choir practice.

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