Pressured by the sanctions of the international community, the regime of Daniel Ortega has put an electoral reform on the agenda of the National Assembly.
It includes modifications that the President of the Assembly, Gustavo Porras (one of those sanctioned by the United States), warned will only be discussed with the Supreme Electoral Council, aligned to the Government, and the political parties that have representation in the Parliament (the ruling FSLN, the Constitutional Liberal Party and other Government’s allies), thus excluding the social and political movements organized after the April 2018 Rebellion that demands the departure of Ortega and has divulged a joint proposal for profound electoral reforms.
During the presentation of the 2020 legislative agenda, Porras assured that the electoral reform will be carried out with the objective of “strengthening the popular vote, the political parties’ system, the electoral organization and the electoral technical system led by the Supreme Electoral Council.” Afterwards he emphasized: “we will follow-up so that no one in the country continues saying that the deputies don’t do anything.”
Electoral reform has been one of the main demands of civic organizations that oppose Ortega. Recently they presented a consensus reform proposal that, among other aspects, proposes the non-partisanship of electoral and administrative structures and new mechanisms to appoint the poll workers and electoral police. However, the regime has refused to discuss these changes with organized civil society.
They have the necessary votes to impose an electoral reform
The representative of the Civic Alliance, Jose Pallais, warned that Ortega has enough votes to impose a unilateral electoral reform in the Assembly, changes that could be superficial to wash his image a little before the international community and not the profound thorough modifications that are needed in the Electoral Power.
“We have not been taken into account at all, rather we have heard that the Government has no disposition to accept the recommendations made by the Organization of American States and the European Parliament,” Pallais explained. He adds that the Sandinista Front “believes that the Civic Alliance is not convenient for them to negotiate a reform with because that could end the “pacts”, the agreements that have not benefitted democracy.”
However, Pallais said that the Civic Alliance has held some meetings with the political parties that have representation in the National Assembly, who have told them that “they will not lend themselves to the game of supporting the Government to achieve a tailor-made reform.”
“We hope that they will fulfill their commitment, with those words that have been transmitted to us. now that the Government’s move to do so with those who have negotiated with them in the past is clear,” he stressed.
One of the political parties that will discuss the electoral reform with the Ortega regime will be the Constitutional Liberal Party, whose party whip, deputy Jimmy Blandon said he hopes “that all democratic forces can sit down to prepare a joint reform proposal,” ignoring in this way the unified proposal of the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White National Unity, but leaving open the possibility for a future negotiation.
It is because of this lack of knowledge of the unified proposal that opponent Pallais assures that “now that the Government’s move is clear” it is necessary to disseminate the electoral law reform proposal more vigorously.
The document also emphasizes the need for mandatory electoral observation, disclosure of results on the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) website detailed by polling station nationwide; publication of the results protocols of the CSE website; separate ballots for each type of election (President, departmental deputies, Mayors and city council and the Central American Parliament (Parlacen); timely oversight by political parties and without exclusions; cleansing, updating and auditing of the voter registration rolls.