Sandinista and U.S. nemesis Daniel Ortega is the frontrunner going into Nicaragua's presidential election this Sunday. Do you think Ortega will pull off a first-round victory? How do you see a second-round vote going? What would an Ortega victory mean for U.S.-Nicaragua relations? Inter-American Dialogue's Latin America Advisor brought together experts in Latin-American relations to weigh in on the coming election.
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Visiting Fellow Roger Noriega
I doubt that Daniel Ortega will win the presidency of Nicaragua--particularly if he fails to win in the first round. That is the crux of the problem: he is a man who can never win the support of the majority of Nicaraguans, yet he is bound and determined to win power. If Ortega wins, he will owe his victory to right-wing caudillo
(strongman) and former President Arnoldo Aleman, who made a pact with Ortega to rig the electoral rules to make it possible for him to win with a meager 35 percent of the votes. Nicaragua's majority is still poor because of the corruption, selfishness, and arrogance of the traditional political leaders. Nevertheless, I believe most Nicaraguans will reject the populism of Ortega, yet again, to give democracy another chance. It is my expectation that Eduardo Montealegre will run a close second to Ortega in the first round but defeat him handily in the run-off election. We are all counting on Montealegre to pull the country together to produce decent opportunities for Nicaraguans who want nothing more, and deserve nothing less, than a chance to work hard and not be abused by their government.Roger F. Noriega is a visiting fellow at AEI.