Experts Propose Electoral and Constitutional Reforms in Nicaragua

A group of political scientists, observers and constitutionalists

The constitutional law expert, Gabriel Alvarez, member of the Grupo Pro Reforma, presents their proposal. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

They promote a ban on presidential reelection and making 51% of the vote be the threshold for winning the office of president.

By Confidencial – EFE

HAVANA TIMES – On Friday, September 20, a group of specialists in Nicaraguan political and electoral topics presented a proposal for amendments to Nicaragua’s Electoral Law.  The proposed amendments would establish a ban on presidential reelection in order to guarantee the country’s return to democracy.

The Pro-Reform Group made public their proposal in the midst of the socio-political crisis that broke out starting in April 2018, involving protests against President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President, Rosario Murillo.

The group proposed four basic pillars for a return to democracy: restoring trust in the electoral process; the reestablishment of transparency and electoral guarantees; broad and equitable competition among parties; and an improvement in citizen participation.

“Reforming the Supreme Electoral Council must involve a recovery of their credibility, and that implies a profound transformation of the electoral system,” stated Jose Antonio Peraza, representative of the Pro-Reform Group, in a press conference.

Clean up the Electoral Council

The group maintained that trust in the electoral system will be regained when authorities are named according to their professional capacities and not for their political party.  

At the same time, he pointed out that re-establishing transparency and electoral guarantees would go along with having elections under national and international observation, a detailed and immediate release of the results, the purging of the electoral roles and respect for the calendar established for the voting.

Political scientist Jose Antonio Peraza, a member of the Pro-Reform Group, presents their proposal. Photo: Carlos Herrera.

Regarding fair electoral competition, the specialists proposed the prohibition of reelection, allowing those in exile to vote, inhibiting the candidacy of the president’s wife, having the threshold for election be a 50+% share of the votes, and selecting deputies to the National Assembly by free elections.

In the area of citizen participation, they proposed reestablishing a system of referendums and plebiscites, keeping the political parties away from the technical electoral processes, and rendering broad and immediate information on the voting results.

Coincides with other proposals

These proposals generally coincide with others previously presented by the opposition movements Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, the National Blue and White Unity, and the political party “Citizens for Liberty” (Ciudadanos por la Libertad CxL)

Peraza affirmed that their proposals start with the recommendations previously made by the Organization of American States, the European Union, the Carter Center, the Institute for Development and Democracy, and the organization Ethics and Transparency.

The opposition sees general elections as the peaceful solution to the conflict in Nicaragua that has left 328 dead in 17 months, according to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

Nicaraguan humanitarian organizations have counted as many as 595 deaths, while the government has recognized 200.

The Ortega government has termed the crisis “a failed coup d’etat” and in recent days has twice denied entry into the country to a commission from the Organization of American States, whose aim was to encounter a peaceful solution to the crisis.