Politics of Nicaragua

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Nicaragua is a presidential republic, in which the President of Nicaragua is both head of state and head of government, and there is a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government.

Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.


In 1995, the executive and legislative branches negotiated a reform of the 1987 Sandinista constitution which gave extensive new powers and independence to the National Assembly, including permitting the Assembly to override a presidential veto with a simple majority vote and eliminating the president's ability to pocket veto a bill. Members of the unicameral National Assembly are elected to concurrent five-year terms.

In January 2014, the National Assembly approved changes to the constitution, removing presidential term limits. This allowed current President Daniel Ortega to run for a third successive term.[1]

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Daniel Ortega FSLN 11 January 2016
Vice President Rosario Murillo FSLN 11 January 2016

The president and the vice president are elected for a single five-year term. With the reform of the constitution in 2014 the ban on re-election of the president has been removed.[2] The president appoints the Council of Ministers.

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional) consists of 90 deputies elected from party lists drawn at the department and national level, plus the outgoing president and the runner-up in the presidential race, for a total of 92. In the 2011 elections, the Sandinista National Liberation Front won 63 seats (securing a majority), the Independent Liberal Party won 27 seats, and the Constitutionalist Liberal Party won 2 seats. This includes seats given to outgoing Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo and presidential runner-up Fabio Gadea Mantilla.

Outgoing Vice President Jaime Morales Carazot's seat would usually be given to the outgoing president. However, Danial Ortega was re-elected after the Constitution was modified to remove term limits.

Political parties and elections[edit]

e • d Summary of the 6 November 2011 Nicaraguan presidential election results
Candidates – Parties Votes %
José Daniel Ortega SaavedraSandinista National Liberation Front 1,569,287 62.46
Fabio Gadea MantillaIndependent Liberal Party 778,889 31.00
José Arnoldo Alemán LacayoConstitutionalist Liberal Party 148,507 5.91
Édgar Enrique Quiñónez TucklerNicaraguan Liberal Alliance 10,003 0.40
Róger Antonio Guevara MenaAlliance for the Republic 5,898 0.23
Total votes 2,512,584 100.00
Source: CSE
e • d Summary of the 6 November 2011 Nicaraguan National Assembly election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional) 1,583,199 60.85 63*
Independent Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Independiente) 822,023 31.59 27*
Constitutionalist Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Constitucionalista) 167,639 6.44 2
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense ) 19,658 0.76
Alliance for the Republic (Alianza por la República) 9,317 0.36
Total votes 2,512,584 100.00 92
Source: CSE
* The runner-up in the presidential election (Fabio Gadea Mantilla of the PLI) and the outgoing president are special members of the National Assembly; as Ortega was reelected, the outgoing Vice President (Jaime Morales Carazo of the FSLN), who was not Ortega's running mate in this election (having been replaced by Omar Halleslevens, will take up his seat. (AFP)

Judicial branch[edit]

The Supreme Court of Justice supervises the functioning of the still largely ineffective and overburdened judicial system. As part of the 1995 constitutional reforms, the independence of the Supreme Court was strengthened by increasing the number of magistrates from 9 to 12. In 2000, the number of Supreme Court Justices was increased to 16. Supreme Court justices are nominated by the political parties and elected to 5-year terms by the National Assembly.

Electoral branch[edit]

Led by a council of seven magistrates, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) is the co-equal branch of government responsible for organizing and conducting elections, plebiscites, and referendums. The magistrates and their alternates are elected to 5-year terms by the National Assembly. Constitutional changes in 2000 expanded the number of CSE magistrates from five to seven and gave the PLC and the FSLN a freer hand to name party activists to the council, prompting allegations that both parties were politicizing electoral institutions and processes and excluding smaller political parties.

Human rights[edit]

Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by the Nicaraguan constitution, but media has come under censorship from time to time.[3][4][5] Other constitutional freedoms include peaceful assembly and association, freedom of religion, and freedom of movement within the country, as well as foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. The government also permits domestic and international human rights monitors to operate freely in Nicaragua.

The constitution prohibits discrimination based on birth, nationality, political belief, race, gender, language, religion, opinion, national origin, economic or social condition. Homosexuality has been legal since 2008.

All public and private sector workers, except the military and the police, are entitled to form and join unions of their own choosing, and they exercise this right extensively.[citation needed] Nearly half of Nicaragua's work force, including agricultural workers, is unionized.[citation needed] Workers have the right to strike. Collective bargaining is becoming more common in the private sector.[citation needed]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Nicaragua is divided in 15 departments : Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Estelí, Granada, Jinotega, León, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rivas, Río San Juan, as well as in two autonomous regions: North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region.

Foreign relations[edit]

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega said March 6, 2008 that the nation is breaking relations with Colombia "in solidarity with the Ecuadoran people", following the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis.[6] The relations were restored soon after.

Political pressure groups[edit]

Some political pressure groups are:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nicaragua: Ortega allowed to run for third successive term". BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  2. ^ http://www.bti-project.org/en/reports/country-reports/detail/itc/NIC/
  3. ^ Avenue, Committee to Protect Journalists 330 7th; York, 11th Floor New; Ny 10001. "Nicaragua Special Report: Daniel Ortega's Media War". cpj.org. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  4. ^ "Last founder of Sandinistas dies". BBC News. 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  5. ^ McDonald, Michael. "Nicaragua Suffers Worst Slump in 30 Years Amid Ortega Crackdown". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  6. ^ CNN

External links[edit]