Nicaragua goes to polls on Nov 5 | india | Hindustan Times
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Nicaragua goes to polls on Nov 5

Around 3.6 million Nicaraguans over the age of 16 are eligible to vote, although the electoral tribunal expects that only about 2.8 million people will actually do so.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 16:37 IST

Nicaragua goes to polls on Sunday where the main issue at stake is whether leftist Daniel Ortega will get a chance at governing the Central American country in peacetime, 16 years after his first stormy presidency.

Around 3.6 million Nicaraguans over the age of 16 are eligible to vote, although the electoral tribunal expects that only about 2.8 million people will actually do so.

Opinion polls suggested that Ortega would win a first-round plurality of about a third, which would force a runoff election within 45 days with the second-place candidate.

Ortega was president from 1985 to 1990, as the country endured a civil war that pitted the Marxist Sandinistas against the US-sponsored Contras, leaving more than 50,000 people dead.

In 1990 Ortega was defeated when an anti-Sandinista alliance helped elect Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

In Nicaragua, a presidential candidate needs more than 40 per cent of the vote, or 35 per cent with at least a 5-point advantage over the second-place candidate, to win outright in the first round.

Four coalitions and one political party are fielding candidates for the post, which dissident liberal Enrique Bolanos has held since 2002.

Leftist Ortega, 59, is the candidate of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and faces a divided right-wing opposition in his fourth attempt to regain power.

Opinion polls suggested that former banker Eduardo Montealegre, 51, nominee of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN), is Ortega's top competitor with about 25 percent support in the opinion polls.