Tunnermann on Failed Opposition Unity in Nicaragua

Both parties at fault for hindering unity, affirms Carlos Tunnermann

Carlos Tünnermann. File photo: Oscar Navarrete / LA PRENSA

By Leonor Alvarez (La Prensa)

HAVANA TIMES – Carlos Tunnermann attributed the failed consolidation of a Nicaraguan opposition electoral alliance to mistakes on both sides. Tunnermann is one of the spokespersons for the Good Will Commission, a group set up to facilitate such unity. His recent comments alluded to the unsuccessful conversations between the Citizens for Liberty Party (CxL), representing the Citizens’ Alliance, and the Party for Democratic Restoration (PRD), the only legally established party in the National Coalition bloc.

Tunnermann, an academic by background, set out the specific points that impeded the forming of the alliance. He noted possible areas of agreement and offered some thoughts regarding what could be done about other, more thorny differences.

Legal Representation

The National Coalition and the PRD had put forth a proposal for both blocs to select a joint legal representative for an alliance. Tunnermann considered such an agreement possible and stated that the CxL should have accepted it.

“It’s not true that the legal representative for the alliance has to come from the party whose name will appear on the ballot. The figure [representing an electoral alliance] doesn’t necessarily have to be from the CxL. Naturally, the legal representative of the CxL would be from the CxL. However, the legal representative of the alliance could have been a third person who is trusted by both sides. Having such a person represent the alliance could be accepted,” noted Tunnermann.

Regarding quotas for legislative candidates

Tunnermann felt that the National Coalition and the PRD made a mistake when they proposed a formula for candidates to the National Assembly. They had proposed a distribution quota of 50% for each bloc. The problem, Tunnermann believes, was that this was proposed before a unity agreement had been reached. He said the unity was first in importance.

“It seems to me, and I say this in all honesty, that to speak of dividing the deputy seats up using a 50% formula is somewhat erroneous. It wasn’t the right moment to speak of the legislative candidates. It was a matter of forming an alliance, and the possibility of constituting such a partnership,” Tunnermann stated.

Unity around a presidential candidate

Now, Tunnermann is hoping that the opposition’s electoral unity can still be achieved by nominating a single presidential candidate to represent both blocs. He feels that this is still possible. “The solution can come through the presidential candidates,” he asserted.

He recalled that nearly all of the presidential candidates signed the document entitled “Unidad Nicaragua Primero” (Unity, Nicaragua First). In it, they committed themselves to submitting to a mechanism for the selection of a single candidate to represent the opposition. All the signatory groups pledged to support the single selected candidate.

“With this document in force, which contains the signature of the majority, a consensus among the [presidential] precandidates can be reached. That way, the agreement could go forward, even though Citizens for Liberty already registered their own alliance. The PRD isn’t in any alliance but continues as a party that’s planning to participate. So, the precandidates can come to an agreement and seek a consensual mechanism for the selection of a single candidate. Then, independently of an agreement among the parties, a sole candidate could be chosen,” Carlos Tunnermann assured.

The Good Will Commission spokesperson is convinced that if a single candidate is chosen, “we could succeed in achieving the great unity of the opposition forces in support of that candidacy. The same unity that wasn’t reached through the political parties.”

Later, Tunnermann added, they’d have to discuss which ballot space would be used by that unique presidential candidate. If this doesn’t occur, Tunnermann warned of an electoral scenario like that of 2006. At that time, Ortega faced a divided political opposition, opening the way for his return to power in 2007 with only 38% of the vote.

The two parties with allotted ballot spaces – the CxL and the PRD – each represent one of the two principal opposition blocs. The two blocs failed to form an official electoral alliance, which had to be consolidated and registered with the Supreme Electoral Council by May 12th. That was the day established by the electoral calendar for the formal constitution of alliances between political parties. All of this is a preamble to Nicaragua’s general elections, scheduled for November 7th.

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