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Nicaragua Politics

State and politics

According to the 1987 Constitution (revised by 2000), political power is shared between the President and the National Assembly. The president is elected in direct elections for five years. If no candidate receives at least 35% of the vote, a second round of voting takes place. The president may be re-elected but not for the subsequent term of office. The National Assembly's 90 members are elected in proportional elections for five years, but a small mandate also goes to the presidential and vice presidential candidates who have achieved a certain proportion of votes. Nicaragua is divided into 15 departments and two autonomous regions.

Political System of Nicaragua

The largest parties are Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) and the right-wing party Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC), which together achieved a kind of bipartisan system in Nicaragua. However, both parties are deeply divided internally and in fact consist of different groupings around leading party personalities such as Daniel Ortega in the FSLN and Arnoldo Alemán in the PLC. In 2006, President Enrique Bolaños broke up with his own party PLC and formed Alianza por la República (APRE). An important breaker group from the FSLN is Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS). The Sandinists succeeded after repeated attempts to restore the presidential power, which was lost in 1990 to a right-wing alliance, in the November 2006 elections. See also History.

Judiciary

The legal rules are in principle codified. The most important codifications are the Civil Code, the Civil Procedure Act, the Trade Act, the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Labor Act. The public courts consist of small-scale courts, district courts, appellate courts and a supreme court. The death penalty was abolished in 1979; the last execution took place in 1930. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how NI can stand for Nicaragua.

Human Rights

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and is characterized by an uneven distribution of resources. The people have suffered significantly during the regime change of the last decades from the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza's dictator and further through the socialist regime under Daniel Ortega 1979–90.

Several social reforms were indeed introduced during Ortega's regime and the foundations were laid for democratic development, but the development was hampered by the violent civil war between the government- friendly Sandinists and the US-backed contras (see History).

Since Ortega again became head of state in 2007, the government has shown increasing authoritarian tendencies and the space for opposition players and civil society organizations has decreased. Corruption combined with reduced transparency facilitates organized crime in the country and poses a threat to legal security.

The right to freedom of expression and pressure is prescribed in the constitution and Nicaragua is reported to have a relatively free media climate according to Reporters Without Borders, which places Nicaragua in place 74 of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index 2015. However, self-censorship occurs in connection with investigative journalism to avoid reprisals.

Rape and sexual violence are very common in Nicaragua and the majority of victims are girls and young women. However, the Government's ambition to promote women's increased political participation and representation has yielded results and the proportion of women in Parliament in 2012 was 40 percent.

Nicaragua has no state religion but the position of the Catholic Church is strong in the country and influences politics on issues such as women's reproductive rights. One consequence of this is that abortion was criminalized in 2008. The punishment for women and girls who undergo abortion, as well as for the medical staff who perform it, is prison. Complications after illegal abortions are estimated to be one of the most common causes of death among women of childbearing age.

Prostitution is a common occurrence and human trafficking as well as sexual commercial exploitation of children and especially young women is a growing problem. Especially affected are girls 13-17 years.

Child labor occurs and reports show that 8 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work on coffee, tobacco and sugar plantations. The law prohibits children under 14 from working which is not complied with. Violence and sexual abuse directed at children are common.

Discrimination on the grounds of ethnic affiliation has been punished since 2007, but in practice the indigenous peoples receive inadequate healthcare, low educational standards and poor infrastructure. Poverty and economic inequality are widespread in the regions dominated by indigenous peoples.

The law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability, but in practice access to education, work and health care for persons with disabilities is limited.

Heads of State

Presidents (from 1893)

1893-1909 José Santos Zelaya
1909-10 José Madriz
1910-11 José Dolores Estrada
1911 Juan José Estrada
1911-16 Adolfo Díaz
1917-21 Emiliano Chamorro
1921-23 Diego Manuel Chamorro
1923-25 Bartolomeo Martínez
1925-26 Carlos Solórzano
1926 Emiliano Chamorro
1926-28 Adolfo Díaz
1929-33 José María Moncada
1933-36 Juan Bautista Sacasa
1936-37 Carlos Brenes
1937-47 Anastasio Somoza d.ä.
1947 Leonardo Argüello
1947 Benjamin Lacaya
1947-50 Victor Román
1950-56 Anastasio Somoza d.ä.
1957-63 Luis Somoza
1963-66 René Schick
1966-67 Lorenzo Guerrero
1967-72 Anastasio Somoza you
1972-74 junta under Somoza's control
1974-79 Anastasio Somoza you
1979-84 junta under Sandinist control
1984-90 Daniel Ortega
1990-97 Violeta de Chamorro
1997-2002 Arnoldo Alemán
2002-2007 Enrique Bolaños
2007 Daniel Ortega
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