Rosario Murillo Has Two Options to Follow Ortega in Nicaragua as President

Ortega will clear up the mystery in the coming days

Rosario Murillo, Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro at the July 19th celebration in Managua. Photo: Carlos Herrera/confidencial
Rosario Murillo, Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro at the July 19th celebration in Managua. Photo: Carlos Herrera/confidencial

HAVANA TIMES — According to the electoral calendar established by the Supreme Electoral Court (CSE), the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) must register their list of candidates for president, vice president and legislators between July 28th and August 2nd and in doing so they’ll reveal what the line of succession that Commander Daniel Ortega has in mind.

The mandate has declared that his wife has “50% of power” and she’s practically acted like a co-president over the last nine years, which is why in the absence of a strong political player in the game, Rosario Murillo appears his only card in the presidential line of succession, during the fourth presidential term that will begin in January 2017.

If Ortega chooses Murillo as his vice-presidential candidate, the First Lady will have the constitutional mechanism she needs to assume the presidency, if Ortega is absent for one reason or another.

However, Murillo could also opt for a more discreet path, showing less political zeal, if she appears heading the FSLN candidate list for the National Assembly.

In order to put herself in Ortega’s “presidential line of succession, all she has to do is be elected as a representative, if she has the control and full support of her party to elect her as president, at the moment the vice-president renounces being president when he/she temporarily fills the position in the absence of a president, as stipulated in the Constitution.

Article 149 of the Political Constitution states that “in the case of the President and Vice-President of the Republic “being unable or temporarily and simultaneously incapable of holding office”, the President of the National Assembly will temporarily fill the position of President of the Republic.

If the President is permanently absent, the same article states the Vice-President will substitute him/her and it’s up to the National Assembly to elect a new vice-president amongst its members, that is to say, any of its national, departmental or regional legislators.

However if both the President and Vice-President of the Republic are permanently absent from their positions, the Constitution establishes that “the president of the National Assembly or whoever acts as such” will fill the position of President of the Republic for the remainder of the presidential term. According to the same regulation, this substitution must take place within a time frame of 72 hours after both positions are left empty.

With the majority of the National Assembly controlled by the FSLN, and with the resignations that are bound to happen not only in positions of executive power but also in parliament, which according to the FSLN pledge are subordinated to party rule, the path to presidency will remain clear if Murillo really does take on, as is assumed, complete control over the party.

M&R: FSLN leads among voters

The FSLN leads the way for knowing what makes the Nicaraguan people happy, while independent voters have shown an unusual strength just a few months before the general elections, a survey carried out by the consulting firm M&R revealed.

The party led by Daniel Ortega reached a 60.2% favorable rating while the opposition only received 5.4%, the firm detailed. Independents stood in the middle, with 34.4%.

The FSLN received 10% more than they did last month, when the favorable result was 50.2%.

On the other hand, 34.4% of those surveyed declared themselves independent, in spite of the 9.5% drop with regard to last March. “Independent voters are not falling below the scale they’ve achieved in past elections. In 1996, they dropped to 15%; today they stand at 34%,” the director of M&R Consultants, Raul Obregon, said during a presentation of the survey.

Obregon doesn’t believe that the strength independents lies in the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), which virtually wiped out the main opposition group, known up until June as the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) coalition.

“When talking about the Nicaraguan people in terms of political parties, they are not liberals but independent, they are disillusioned with political leadership. In 2011, the main opposition candidate Fabio Gadea won over the majority of independents, but now we don’t have a lot of time for this to happen,” he explains.

The survey took place between June 29th and July 7th, administered to 1601 people aged 16 and over, from rural and urban neighborhoods in 77 municipalities from the 17 national departments and has a margin for error of 2.5% and a 95% level of reliability.

The economy, our main problem

Seven out of every ten people in Nicaragua believe that the economy is the main problem the country faces, according to a survey. 70.6% of those surveyed indicated some aspect of the economy as the most important problem Nicaragua faces today, the M&R Consulting Firm has told us.

The main problem is unemployment, according to 33.6% of those surveyed, followed by the high cost of living (16.2%), poverty (17.9%) and the lack of investment (2.9%). All of this in spite of the fact that Nicaragua’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4.9% last year and by 4.6% in the first five months of 2016 alone.

After the economy, the next most serious problem was social issues according to 19.9% of those surveyed, out of these, 7.7% named delinquency as the most important, 8.6% indicated corruption, 2.3% leaned towards infrastructure and 1.3% in the crisis of values today.