FSLN leader Daniel Ortega, president during the revolutionary decade of the 1980's, appears likely to return to power according to early voting results released following the close of polling stations on Nov. 5.
The latest results from the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) released at 3:32am on Nov. 6 show the following based on results reported from 14.65% of the polling places:
Daniel Ortega (Sandinista Front for National Liberation) - 40.04% Eduardo Montealegre (National Liberal Alliance- Conservative Party) - 33.29% Jose Rizo (Constitutional Liberal Party) - 19.51% Edmundo Jarquin (Sandinista Renovation Movement) - 6.89% Eden Pastora (Alternative for Change) - 0.27%
A quick count released at 6:50am by the national civic group Etica y Transparencia (Ethics and Transparency), which had electoral observers in nearly all of the polling stations (each station has a maximum of 400 voters), showed the following results, which have a 1.7% margin of error.
Daniel Ortega (Sandinista Front for National Liberation) - 38.49% Eduardo Montealegre (National Liberal Alliance- Conservative Party) - 29.52% Jose Rizo (Constitutional Liberal Party) - 24.15% Edmundo Jarquin (Sandinista Renovation Movement) - 7.44% Eden Pastora (Alternative for Change) - 0.40%
If Ortega maintains at least 35% and a lead over Montealegre of at least 5%, he will win election in the first round. Otherwise, a run-off election between the two leading contenders will occur in December.
Eduardo Montealegre insists that the results are not definitive and believes that a second round will be necessary. Meanwhile, euphoric Sandinista supporters began to celebrate as soon as the CSE issued its initial report around midnight, and have celebrated through the night and into the morning with fireworks and street parties, waving red and black flags and repeatedly playing John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" translated into Spanish, the FSLN campaign anthem for the 2006 elections.
Observer groups, such as Etica y Transparencia, The Organization of American States, the European Union, and the Carter Center have noted that the elections were relatively orderly and that irregularities were minimal, though final reports have not been issued. The Organization of American States reported the presence of Electoral Police at 95% of voting centers. Most voting centers also had fiscales (party observers) present. The OAS reported that the PLC and
FSLN had fiscales present at 98% of polling stations, and that the ALN had fiscales present at 96% of polling stations. The MRS had fiscales in 60% of polling stations, and AC fiscales were present at 18% of these stations.
Some voting centers in Managua and in other areas of the country registered disturbances. It has also been reported that some voting centers opened late or closed early. Other voting centers stayed open after closing time (6pm) to allow citizens still waiting in line to vote, which is legal according the Nicaraguan electoral law.
After poll closing on November 5th, the United States Embassy in Managua stated that, "we are receiving reports of some anomalies in the electoral process," which Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) President Robert Rivas dismissed, claiming that the elections were fair and widely observed by both national and international groups and party fiscales.
Final election results, as well as reports from observer groups, are expected to be released later today or tomorrow.