Study: Nicaragua is increasingly polarized

Political polarization determines perceptions of corruption and class of citizenship in Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s political polarization has widened under the self-proclaimed “Government of Reconciliation and National Unity,” according to a forthcoming study entitled “Political Culture and Democracy in Nicaragua 2012.”

The study, which will be released next month, demonstrates a growing divide between supporters of President Daniel Ortega and his opponents, according to a preview presentation by John Booth, a political science professor at North Texas University and the author of the report.

The study, which polled 1,600 people in six regions of the country during February and March of this year, reveals that Nicaragua’s widening political gap affects people’s perceptions of government institutions, but also their class of citizenship—particularly when it comes to voting access.

The polarization in Nicaragua is “more extreme than in other countries in the region,” Booth said during a presentation today at the University of Central America (UCA) in Managua.

The ideological divide seems to be creating parallel realities in Nicaragua. A clear example of this was the 2011 general elections, which were fraudulent in the eyes of the opposition and impeccable in the opinion of the ruling party, Booth notes.

The political analyst and veteran Nicaraguan watcher says 25% of Nicas surveyed in the study said they perceived or witnessed voting irregularities in 2011, including acts of voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing. Curiously, he says, few of those complaints were made by Sandinistas.

The Sandinistas perceived significantly fewer irregularities than other Nicaraguans, Booth said.

Furthermore, Booth said, while much of the country has lost all faith in the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), Sandinista voters say they have more confidence than ever the in the electoral institution.

Booth says the CSE has mutated dramatically from a serious and professional electoral institute to a party apparatus.

“In the 1990s, the electoral machine here worked. But that has changed a lot,” Booth said. “Now the electoral regime is dominated by one party. Before it was a technical institution, but now it’s just partisan. It works very differently now.”

One of the results of the single-party control over the CSE is that Nicaragua is now divided into two classes of citizenry when it comes to exercising the right to vote. Booth says that 30% of the population ages 16-20 does not have voting ID cards (cédulas), and that “followers of the FSLN have better access to voting.”

CSE: ‘I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost’

The dead are another “special interest group” that seems to be getting some preferential treatment from the CSE  these days.

Responding to numerous complaints that the Sandinistas’ so-called “satellite parties”—The Alliance for the Republic (APRE) and the Conservative Party (PC)—are running dead candidates on their ballots because they can’t muster enough support among the living, CSE magistrates today snorted in apathy.

“If you tell me that Juan Pérez is dead, you have to demonstrate that he is dead with a death certificate. You can’t just say it. If you tell me Joe Blow is out of the country, you have to prove it with an immigration certificate,” Julio Acuña, the CSE’s hardworking director of political affairs, told Confidencial after the news publication ran a story earlier this week interviewing grieving families of dead candidates.

Acuña said if the bereaved object to their dead family members running for office on a minority party ballot, they need to file complaints with Judicial System, because the CSE doesn’t care.

Sandinista magistrate José Luis Villavicencio is equally unconcerned about the irony of corpse candidates running for office in what some think is a zombie electoral system.

“To investigate if candidates are real or not real, if they exist or don’t, if they are alive or not, if they are in heaven or on earth, is not within the legal authority of the CSE,” the Sandinista magistrate sniffed.


  • Ray Martinez

    José Luis Villavicencio is a clown and a common delinquent!

  • Brian

    What a strang would we live in down here in Nicaragua … No viable opposition AND extreme polarization! I swear its the Twighlight Zone.

  • Kelvin

    But considering the enormous lengths (and costs) that other countries go to just to give the illusion of democracy…we are doing well.

  • Brian

    I am embarrassed by making two stupid spelling errors but you, Kevin, are way, way out there!

  • Brian

    I must be going nuts!!! Sorry KELVIN … But you’re still way, way out there!!

  • AguaMan

    No dudo que el estudio realizado y aun sin publicar del profesor John Booth va a contener un basamento democrático verdadero. Sin lugar a dudas llegará hacer un creible reporte científico político, del sentir de los nicaragueses que estamos extremadamente divididos. Los que aquí vivimos palpamos a diario el divisionismo.
    Para los nicaragüenses no Orteguistas éste documento será un testimonio luz en la neblina encendida por un profesor universitario americano, apartidista e imparcial que podrá quitar el velo de la desinformación entre sus lectores como son estudiantes y profesionales fuera del ámbito nicaragüense. Porque hay quienes creen solo lo que ven y leen y este documento será una evidencia científica de la realidad basado en el testimono de los 1600 personas entrevistados y por supuesto no será una apología de ningún escritor o periodista del Orteguismo.
    Cabe mencionar que los nicaragüenses si somos capaces de torcer el cuello a la dictadura, y no necesariamente con una guerra pero claro y aunque no lo queramos asi. Es fácil prever que quien tiene el poder como Ortega no lo va a soltar sin llevarse unos muertos. Es un criterio general del nicaragüense. ¨No vale la pena morir para que otros vivan¨ frase acuñada después de la traición de los ¨muchachos¨ que quisieron implantar una dictadura tipo Castrista en Nicaragua.
    Ahí nació el divisionismo. Y aunque parezca una ilusión aplastada por el peso de las armas de la policía, del ejercito y del el poder político de Ortega. Este poder ya comenzó a debilitarse porque el divisionismo ya esta tambien entre los sandinistas.

  • Nicagringo

    Public opinion polls tell the whole story….the country is not polarized…it is firmly behind the current administration because they are doing a great job. The 25% that are against the administration believe that a US style democracy is best for the country…time will tell…but I’m betting Nicaragua is on the right track.

  • amordeliteraturadeNicaragua

    You must watch out for the third Bush–who is trying to let the United States rule your nation for more years (75 out of the last 120 years)–Jeb Bush is going to be elected the next president–Even after spending over 16 Billion dollars, mining the harbors, and using drug dealors to fund the Contras–still refusing to pay the 22 billion dollars the international court in Brussels said they owe you–the U.S. is still trying to overthrough your nation and put another Somoza in Power–Beware of the Northern Wind.

  • Kelvin

    Check the Hague deal:

    1) The Court ruled against the U.S. (who didn’t recognize the court anyway) but did not determine any amount of money as compensation.

    2) All bets were off so to speak as the idea of compensation was part of a “Quit Claim” signed by Violeta (voted on) when Nicaragua received post 1990 elections funding.