Ortega Wins Controversial Reelection
In November 2011, President Daniel Ortega was re-elected in a landslide victory. He received 62.6% of the vote. Ortega's party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, also won big. Their victory might give Ortega the needed majority to change the constitution.
Ortega's win was not without controversy. There were at least 600 complaints of voting irregularities according to Hagamos Democracia, a National Democratic Institute partner organization based in Honduras. However, the European Union and other international election observers who witnessed the election saw no major problems, including no signs of extreme violence at the polls. Still, Ortega ignored Nicaragua's constitutional law, which does not allow leaders to serve consecutive terms. The constitution also limits the president to two terms overall. In 2009, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court, controlled by Ortega, ruled that the constitution's limits were a violation of human rights.
Having been in power since the Sandinista revolution in 1979, Ortega has a history of ignoring complaints about the election process. In the 2008 municipal elections there were allegations of fraud against the Sandinistas. The U.S. withheld $62 million in aid from Nicaragua because of the 2008 fraud allegations.
Poverty remains a problem in Nicaragua with 48% of the population living below the poverty line and 79.9% living on less than $2 per day. High unemployment and underemployment levels, eroding education levels and the regional drug war violence also remain major issues facing the country.