Updated results, including congressional votes, below.
With the one-round victory of Daniel Ortega in the Nicaraguan presidential election now confirmed, I though it was interesting to consider just how stable his support has been across the last four elections:
Of course, 1990 was the year in which Ortega was the incumbent president, and was defeated. He was defeated again in 1996 and 2001. But in 2006, a share of the vote lower than in 2001 and barely more than in 1996 was good enough. Of course, the difference was that the right-wing forces were almost completely unified in 1990, and quite well unified again in 1996 and 2001, but deeply divided in 2006.
Some years ago, recognizing their internal problems, the right insisted, as part of its series of pacts with Ortega and his Sandinista movement, on abandoning the pure plurality method of electing presidents that was in the Sandinistas’ 1987 constitution. The first change was to require 45% of the vote, or else a runoff. Then in a later pact, Ortega insisted on changing it to 40%, or 35% with a five-point margin. Shrewd move. He failed in this election to reach 40%, but with the divisions on the right, he had much more than a five-point margin.
The full results, according to the Nicaraguan electoral council:
Montealagre (ALN), 29.0
Rizo (PLC), 26.2
Jarquin (MRS), 6.4
Pastora (AC), 0.3
Jarquin was the candidate of the so-called Movement for Sandinista Renovation, which had attracted various dissidents from Ortega’s increasingly personalistic and authoritarian Sandinista movement, but hardly any of its organizational prowess. Pastora is the famous Comandante Zero, the one-time popular Sandinista guerrilla. The Rizo campaign, according to various rumors, was actually cooperating with and assisted by Ortega. The rumors are plausible, given that Ortega obviously needed the right to be divided, and the right–like the Sandinista movement itself–has degenerated more into personalistic divisions than programmatic principle. Given Nicaragua’s closed list system for electing congress, both the PLC and the PCN caudillos will control substantial congressional delegations, able to check Ortega. I have not yet seen congressional results. It will be interesting to see if Rizo’s congressional lists outpolled Rizo himself. Given the usual tendency of Nicaraguan voters to vote straight tickets, any significant divergence would add more evidence to the rumors of Ortega-Rizo cooperation.
There was very little ticket-splitting, apparently. According to resuults at the Elecciones 2006 website of the Consejo Supremo Electoral, the votes percentages for the parties are barely different for congress from what they were for the presidential candidates. The +/- figure indicates the change from the presidential percentage, as reported above:
FSLN: 37.6 (-.4)
ALN: 27.7 (-1.3)
PLC: 26.4 (+.2)
MRS: 8.7 (+2.3)
AC: 0.5 (+.2)
Apparently, some voters favored the MRS for congress but voted strategically in the presidential race. However, their votes do not appear to have gone overwhelmingly for one candidate. It does appear that around half of the MRS congressional votes that did not go to Jarquin for president might have gone for presidential runner-up Montealegre, as we might predict, but it was not close to enough to force a runoff. Even if all the difference between the MRS congressional and presidential vote had gone to Montealagre, Ortega would have won by a margin of 7.7 percentage points.
[Note: The above has been revised. Thanks to Tim for catching a significant error!]