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Nicaragua's First Couple Leading Polls Ahead of Sunday's Presidential Election

  • VOA News

An electoral worker prepares a ballot at a polling station in an elementary school in Managua, Nicaragua, Nov. 6, 2016.

An electoral worker prepares a ballot at a polling station in an elementary school in Managua, Nicaragua, Nov. 6, 2016.

Nicaraguans are set to vote Sunday in a presidential election that polls indicate will most likely re-elect President Daniel Ortega.

M&R Consultants national poll cites 69.8 percent of those surveyed planned to vote for Ortega and his leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party, compared with 8.1 percent for right-wing opposition candidate Maximino Rodriguez.

Another 15.5 percent of those polled called themselves independents, or refused to answer the survey, M&R said.

According to reports, Ortega, a former guerilla soldier, will most likely receive more than 50 percent of the vote in an election that includes five other presidential candidates. Ortega’s vice president is his wife Rosario Murillo.

His critics, however, say the president has manipulated Central America’s political system and accuse him of outlining a plan to create a political dynasty with Murillo.

A man walks past a billboard promoting Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and running mate, his wife Rosario Murillo, in Managua, Nov. 5, 2016.

A man walks past a billboard promoting Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and running mate, his wife Rosario Murillo, in Managua, Nov. 5, 2016.

A court decision allowed Ortega to run for re-election in 2011, even though the country has a one-term limit. Three years after that, the FSLN gained enough support in congress for a constitutional amendment to allow unlimited presidential terms.

“I don’t think it’s worth voting and wasting time, because it’s already fixed. Here they have taken away not our right to vote, but to choose. Ortega wants to die in power and leave his wife to take his place,” Glenda Bendana, a sales executive at a local mall, told the Associated Press.

Some even said the other presidential candidates were placed on the ballot so that Ortega’s candidacy could have real adversaries.

Rodriguez denies such allegation.

“I only collaborate with the Nicaraguan people,” the candidate said.

But surveys indicate the majority of Nicaraguans support the first couple in their bid for the highest political office in the country.

Ortega first ruled the Nicaragua in the 1980s and returned to power in 2007 after a fracture in the country's right-wing parties. Winning election on Sunday will give him a third consecutive term in power.

After almost 10 years as president, his popularity has remained high due to economic policies and social programs in place with the help of allies in Venezuela and Cuba.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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