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Ortega Wins (A Non-Reported) Election

From the rapturous reporters at the DNC’s Associated Press:

Group: Sandinista Leader Ortega Wins Nicaragua Presidency

Monday, November 06, 2006

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Leftist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega appeared Monday to have easily defeated four other presidential candidates in his long quest to return to power 16 years after a U.S.-backed rebellion helped force him from office, according to a respected electoral observer group projecting victory based on a sampling of the votes.

Ortega’s victory, if confirmed by final results, would give Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a strong ally in the region while threatening U.S. aid to the second-poorest nation in the hemisphere.

News of Ortega’s possible victory was met with fireworks and jubilant street parties by his supporters. But many here still have bitter memories of the Sandinistas’ decade in power, in which homes and businesses were seized and a war with Contra rebels left 30,000 dead.

The race was Ortega’s fifth consecutive presidential campaign. He won an 1984 election boycotted by Sandinista opponents, then lost in 1990 to Violeta Chamorro, ending Sandinista rule and the Contra war. His next two presidential attempts, in 1996 and 2001, were also failures.

The quick count by the Nicaraguan Civic Group for Ethics and Transparency gave Ortega 38.5 percent of the vote to 29.5 percent for Harvard-educated Eduardo Montealegre of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, a party that broke from the ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party after former President Arnoldo Aleman was convicted of corruption.

Trailing were Sandinista dissident Edmundo Jarquin, ruling-party candidate Jose Rizo and former Contra rebel Eden Pastora.

The quick count, based on results from a representative sample of polling stations, had a margin of error of 1.7 percentage points. Ortega’s four opponents asked the group to carry out the count as a gauge of whether final results were reliable. They had expressed concern that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal was controlled by the Sandinistas and could influence the final vote.

Montealegre brushed aside Ortega’s lead, saying: "No one has won here. The Nicaraguan people, in a runoff, will determine the next president." Ruling party spokesman Leonel Teller warned that electoral authorities were "inciting something could end in blood and violence."

Thanks to a change in electoral law, Ortega needs only 35 percent of the vote and an advantage of 5 percentage points over his closest rival to avoid a runoff in December. Before, he would have needed 45 percent to avoid a runoff.

The U.S. Embassy issued a statement late Sunday saying it was too soon to "make an overall judgment on the fairness and transparency of the process."

"We are receiving reports of some anomalies in the electoral process, including the late opening of (polling places), the slowness of the voting process and the premature closing of some" polling places, it said.

Roberto Rivas, president of the Supreme Electoral Council, blasted the U.S. statement, saying, "We have promised the Nicaraguan people transparent elections, and that’s what we’ve done. I think there were enough observers to witness that." …

Observers said voting overall was peaceful, although many polling stations opened late, leaving long lines of people waiting to cast their ballots. After the polls closed, groups of angry voters pounded on shuttered doors, screaming at officials inside to let them vote

Armed soldiers kept guard at polling stations monitored by more than 18,000 observers — including three former presidents: the United States’ Jimmy Carter, Peru’s Alejandro Toledo and Panama’s Nicolas Ardito Barletta.

Nicaraguan presidents cannot serve two consecutive terms, and President Enrique Bolanos steps down Jan. 10.

Mind you, just yesterday we were told by the same Associated Press:

… [O]rtega could win in the first round with just 35 percent of the vote if he leads his closest opponent by 5 percentage points. Voters are also electing a new Congress.

Recent polls showed Ortega with a comfortable lead over Montealegre, but just short of the 35 percent needed to avoid a second round.

Ortega cast his vote amid a throng of cameramen, saying he was confident there wouldn’t be a runoff. "Nicaragua wins today," he said before climbing into his Mercedes Benz sport utility vehicle and driving away with his wife.

Polls have shown Ortega would have trouble winning a December runoff. While he has a loyal base of support, many voters still have bitter memories of Sandinista rule, which left the country in an economic shambles and saw 30,000 killed in a war against U.S.-backed Contra rebels.

And isn’t this handy:

Thanks to a change in electoral law, Ortega needs only 35 percent of the vote and an advantage of 5 percentage points over his closest rival to avoid a runoff in December. Before, he would have needed 45 percent to avoid a runoff…

But there can be no doubt that this was a fair election. After all there were unbiased poll-watchers down there like Jimmy Carter and the Nicaraguan Civic Group for Ethics and Transparency.

The quick count by the Nicaraguan Civic Group for Ethics and Transparency gave Ortega 38.5 percent of the vote

This group is so objective (and "respected") that they couldn’t wait to count the votes to declare Mr. Ortega victorious. They had to declare him dictator for life president based upon a "sampling" when we are talking about fractions of percentage points here.

It is beginning to look like our one party media purposefully downplayed Ortega’s chances of victory so that he could win a sleeper election that nobody thought would be definitive — if they had heard about it at all.

That’s our watchdog media at work. Congratulations, Mr. Carter and Mr. Chavez. You’ve done it again.

By the way, note that these elections only came about because the current Nicaraguan president is following the law and stepping down after having served two consecutive terms. Something Hugo Chavez has already announced he will not do.

Oddly, our media has studiously ignored that minor detail as well.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 6th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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