FSLN support climbs

Wednesday, August 14, 1996

By Stephen Marks

MANAGUA — Support for FSLN presidential candidate Daniel Ortega has climbed 10 points to 30%, according to a poll released on July 30. The main right-wing candidate, Arnoldo Alemán of the Liberal Alliance, remains steady at 40%, a level he has held since he began campaigning in earnest a year ago.

In other developments, the Supreme Electoral Council has ruled several candidates ineligible to stand in the October 22 elections. Antonio Lacayo, the former minister of the presidency, was eliminated for being related to the current president, Violeta Chamorro.

Eden Pastora, an ex-Contra and one-time FSLN leader, was found to be a Costa Rican citizen (Pastora's party has the allegiance of several of the former FSLN deputies in the parliament). Banker Alvaro Robelo, who was running a strong populist campaign, was eliminated for being the candidate of an electoral alliance which was not legally constituted. The Party of the Resistance (PRN) was also kept out of the race as it became involved in a bitter internal fight over whether or not to join Alemán's alliance.

Alemán had hoped to marshal the main Conservative and Liberal parties behind his campaign. However, the pro-Alemán factions lost out at the nominating conventions of the Conservatives, Liberals and PRN. Alemán was able only to split off a section of these parties.

Other parties running include the Sandinista Renovation Movement, Lacayo's Pronal (he is now running for the National Assembly), the UNO-96 led by prominent right-winger Alfredo Cesar, as well as Conservatives, Christian Democrats and two Liberal factions, that of former vice-president Virgilio Godoy and that of banker and newspaper owner Haroldo Montealegre.

Combined, none of them, nor any of the other numerous minor parties, register more than 10% in the polls. Minor presidential candidates are really hoping to win National Assembly seats: losing presidential candidates with sufficient votes are automatically elected to that body.

The elections will be polarised between Alemán and Ortega, and will go to a run-off if, as is likely, neither wins 45%. The US3 government has pledged to respect the election results, although it would hardly say otherwise. Some observers predict that whoever wins won't be able to govern without some form of agreement and concessions, as both sides are too strong.

Certainly the next vice-president will be a member of COSEP, the big business organisation: five of the different vice-presidential candidates, including the FSLN's, are members of COSEP.