Nicaragua: ‘Elections Would be Suicidal without an Electoral Reform’

Carlos Tunnermann, general coordinator of the Civic Alliance, signing an accord with the Mothers of April. Photo: EFE / Jorge Torres

Proposals for electoral reform from the Civic Alliance, Superior Council of Private Enterprise and the United Nation “revolve around the same themes,” affirms Azahalea Solis.

By Maynor Salazar  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The ten-point program that the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy presented lays the foundation for a great national political accord. It’s a “substantial program”, intended to contribute to “debate and consensus” to consolidate a joint proposal for the Nicaraguan opposition, affirms Azahalea Solis, a member of the Alliance’s executive council.

Solis feels that the proposal “brings together the demands that have been expressed for more than twelve years by the different social sectors of the country and those that have been made in the last 18 months related to the call for a true State.

“It would be suicidal and absurd” for the opposition to head into an election with Ortega controlling the electoral system. “This has to be an electoral system that generates trust. I believe that in Nicaragua the majority of us are convinced that it’s not possible to go into elections with the situation as it stands now. We have conclusive reasons to tell the international organizations that we can’t accept just any electoral reform,” Solis noted.

Last September, the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB) and the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) also presented their proposals for the nation, in search of a great opposition coalition.  With respect to this, Solis clarified that the Alliance’s proposal and that of the other groups aren’t very different, and that they revolve around the same themes.

“If we take Cosep’s 15 points, the 20 from the UNAB, and the ten-point program of the Civic Alliance, we’ll see that there aren’t any great differences, although some different nuances might exist. For example, the Cosep proposal touches better on some aspects of the economic theme,” Solis declared, adding that in the next weeks they’ll be delivering one unique opposition proposal based on a consensus.

Solis referred to the criticisms posted on social media by Nicaraguan citizens commenting that it makes no sense to propose electoral reforms if the regime doesn’t have any political will to cede. Regarding this, she stated that what the opposition seeks is to prepare the way for the time when this possibility arises. They’ve stated repeatedly that in order to accept reforms, there must be conditions that guarantee compliance with accords.

“In the face of this, we’re talking about unifying the proposals for an electoral reform, the proposal for a nation that we must make, and the basic elements for a really credible opposition coalition,” she emphasized.

Solis noted that the proposals of the Alliance, the UNAB, the Cosep and the Group for Promoting electoral reforms are substantial, and that they’re not willing to participate in elections if the system doesn’t suffer a transformation.

The role of the political parties

This week, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) presented a letter in which they ratified their desire to belong to the great opposition coalition that has been born out of the Alliance and the National Unity. Regarding the role that the legally constituted political parties will have, and that of the parties that have been excluded by the Supreme Electoral Council, Solis said that they needed all the political and economic forces in order to stand up to the regime. Nevertheless, the topic of the inclusion of the parties will be a central theme of the conversations between the Alliance and the UNAB.

“No one should be excluded; in the marches, no one asked where you were from or who you were, we simply assumed that you had a patriotic commitment and that should prevail without any rhetoric.  We should have a profound debate on the role of the political parties, the needs of the parties, and the topic of alliances,” said Solis. She felt that the topic of the alliances was delicate, since historically the one who owns the name on the ballot in an electoral process ends by imposing their will, and it’s not “possible to go into elections under this kind of conditions in which democracy has already been devalued.”

Last week, in a business event, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States Arturo Cruz spoke about the option of utilizing the electoral vehicle that the Citizens for Liberty party has offered in a potential scenario for national elections.

The opposition has a trustworthy electoral vehicle, Cruz said, alluding to the Citizens for Liberty party which is a registered political party, “around which the UNO [the coalition that defeated Ortega in 1990] of the future could be consolidated. This could become the option for the seventy per cent of Nicaraguans who don’t have a preference for any party or candidate, but who are desirous of ending the Ortega regime.”

Solis insisted that in an alliance all those who make it up should be at the same level, and that there can’t be an owner of the party name that imposes their views, since that would be incorrect and wouldn’t be very distant from the pacts among the higher-ups that have been made before. “It’s basic that the coalition should have its own name and democratic rules for the allies,” she affirmed.

The feminist leader clarified that the process to elect candidates for this opposition alliance that is being constituted, has still not been defined.

“Various methods were talked about: surveys, open primaries, closed primaries. There are various methods for doing this, and we’re weighing the pros and cons of the conditions that we’d have for electing one candidate or another. What we cannot have is a selection process that’s not elective, as has happened in the past. It must be a group elected through this open democratic process that burst into being on April 18 of last year,” she declared.

Solis concluded that the crisis in Chile, where the citizens were protesting social inequalities, should serve as a warning. They need to revisit this topic with respect to the real integration of the ethnic and afro-Nicaraguan communities that aren’t well situated in the proposals of any of the groups.

“They simply say “regional autonomy”, but it would be timely to develop further this notion of regional autonomy and the theme of social justice, because we can’t grow while inequality increases,” finalized Solis.

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