(posted Nov. 3, 11:00 a.m.)- More than 4.4 million Nicaraguans are eligible to vote this Sunday in the country’s fifth municipal elections held in 153 municipalities, although much fewer people are actually expected to participate due to traditionally high levels of voter abstention in previous municipal elections.
Ambitiously, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) had 5.5 million ballots printed this year, which would seem to provide plenty of leftovers.
A total of seven parties will appear on a single ballot, where voters are expected to mark an “X” under the party flag of their likening. This year’s ballots only list the names of the candidates running for mayor and vice mayor, but do not include the candidates’ photos (as in years past) or the names of the tens of thousands of candidates running for city council.
In total, an unruly herd of 31,687 candidates are running for their chance at a government paycheck representing the following political parties and alliances: the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC); the Sandinista National Liberation Front Alliance (Alianza FSLN); the Conservative Party (PC); YATAMA (which is running independently in the municipalities of Puerto Cabezas, Waspan and Prinzapolka, and in alliance with the FSLN in the rest of the country); the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN); the Alliance for the Republic (APRE); and the Independent Liberal Party (Alianza PLI).
The Sandinistas’ alliance is comprised of seven minority parties of former contras, indigenous groups, evangelical Christians and the remains of former dictator Anastasio Somoza’s party, the Nationalist Liberal Party (PLN).
The PLI’s alliance includes the Citizen Action Party (PAC) and a regional party from the Caribbean known as PAMUC.
There will be a total of 13,340 voting precincts distributed in 4,296 voting centers nationwide—1,435 in urban areas and 2,859 in rural areas, according to the CSE.
The department of Managua has the most voting precincts, with 3,216, and the department of Río San Juan has the fewest, with 262.
A total of 80,040 party-accredited poll watchers will be keeping a close eye on the events, and making sure the ballots are counted accordingly. An estimated 106,080 partisan poll watchers (“fiscales” in Spanish) will participate in Sunday’s election, with a total of six at each voting precinct.
Each voting precinct will also be watched over by two electoral cops—26,680 in total—who will be keeping a finger on the trigger for democracy.
The elections will also be observed—or “accompanied,” in CSE talk—by the government’s obmudsman’s office, the National Council of Universities, the Organization of American States (OAS), and a few electoral observation groups from Latin America, including the venerable Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA), which has been very impressed with the way Nicaragua has managed its past two elections.
Several other electoral watchdog groups, including Hagamos Democracia, will monitor the elections unofficially.