Officially: República de Nicaragua.
Seat of government: Managua.
Status: Not democratic.
Structure: The governing party heavily constrains political activity to ensure its continued power. In theory, the president is elected directly by plurality, and the legislature (Asamblea Nacional) is elected in the departamentos or at large, both by party-list proportional representation.
Governing party: Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.
Head of government: Daniel Ortega Saavedra, FSLN, president (1979-90, and since 2007).
Opposition legislative parties: Partido Liberal Constitucionalista; Partido Liberal Independiente; Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense; Partido Conservador; Alianza por la República; Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka (YaTaMa).
Assessment: The Sandinistas overthrew the rightist régime of the Somoza family (1936-79), and then ruled undemocratically themselves (1979-90). Three presidents then served under a short period of democracy: Violeta Chamorro (1990-7) of the umbrella Unión Nacional Opositora, Arnoldo Alemán (1997-2002) of the PLC, and Enrique Bolaños (2002-7) of the PLC. Ortega, former head of the Sandinista régime, was elected in 2006 with a plurality. His party had only a plurality in the legislature as well. Back in office, Ortega unsurprisingly aligned himself with Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro. Local elections during his first term were viewed as fraudulent. A disputed election in 2011 saw Ortega officially reelected with a large majority; the FSLN also claimed a large majority in the legislative assembly. The PLC had been a major party, but split into factions, and the PLI became the main opposition. In official results for the 2016 elections, Ortega claimed a landslide victory for himself and the FSLN, while the PLC again became the chief legislative opposition; the government effectively kneecapped the PLI through the removal of its leader, Eduardo Montealegre. Protests that began in 2018 were violently repressed and led to hundreds of deaths and a ban on further protests. In the lead-up to elections scheduled for 2021, the government arrested four opposition presidential candidates, including the daughter and nephew of Chamorro.
FH: 4-3, partly free (democratic). Econ: 6.07 (78), flawed democracy.
Updated: 2021 June 17.