The Sandinista Front (FSLN) padded the results in the Nov. 6 general elections by at least 150,000 ballots, stealing 8 to 12 additional seats in congress to get their legislative super majority, according to the final report released today by local electoral watchdog group Ethics and Transparency.
The election-monitoring group found that in the nearly 4,000 voting stations where the Sandinistas counted the ballots alone after expelling opposition poll watchers or blocking their entry to voting stations, the ruling party’s vote tallies were 30 percent higher than they were in other voting stations that were properly monitored by election observers and poll watchers.
But in their zeal to “win” a majority in the legislative National Assembly, the Sandinistas apparently over-cooked the vote, according to Ethics and Transparency. As a result, for the first time ever in the electoral history of a presidential democracy anywhere on planet Earth (a 50-year recorded history of more than 200 elections worldwide) there were more ballots cast for lawmakers than for the president—a statistic that Ethics and Transparency finds particularly suspicious given the fact that the candidates for president and congress were all on the same ballot.
Having failed the basic sniff test on 17 of 18 measurable indicators in four areas subject to technical evaluation, Nicaragua’s electoral process was “neither fair nor honest” and the official results “don’t deserve any credibility given the systematic and intentional irregularities” by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), according Ethics and Transparency’s final evaluation of the dubious 2011 poll.
Ethics and Transparency, the local affiliate of Transparency International, was not accredited to monitor the elections, but did so anyway. Even before the first results were announced on election day, the group released a statement saying the elections were a failure from a technical point of view because they did not meet the minimal international requirement for free and fair elections—a criticism that has been increasingly echoed by other organizations that monitored the electoral process.
Even before the election day shenanigans, Ethics and Transparency claims the elections had already failed to meet minimal requirements for citizen participation because the Sandinista-controlled CSE denied 198,073 voting-age citizens access to their cédulas (voting identification cards). In the majority of the cases, citizens were denied their cédulas because they belong to opposition parties, Ethics and Transparency found.
“Our conclusion is scientific,” said Ethics and Transparency executive director Roberto Courtney.
Sandinistas blame problems on U.S. lies
Meanwhile, in Washington, Denis Moncada, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), lashed out against the hemispheric body Monday morning, calling the findings in last week’s preliminary report on Nicaragua’s elections “false” and part of an alleged plot to destabilize the Sandinista government.
“It is inacceptable and reprehensible that some members of the OAS’ electoral mission of accompaniment gave false information and contributed to the plan hatched by those who want to destabilize Nicaragua,” Moncada said.
Moncada promised that the Sandinista government will provide proof “so that people know the truth and can correct the false information so the OAS isn’t used to develop and strengthen the plans of destabilization by agents in the U.S. embassy who are working with the opposition.”