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Politics of Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a constitutional democracy[?] with executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral branches of government. In 1995, the executive and legislative branches negotiated a reform of the 1987 Sandinista constitution which gave impressive new powers and independence to the legislature--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. Both the president and the members of the unicameral National Assembly are elected to concurrent 5-year terms. The National Assembly 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 2001 elections, the PLC and its allies won 52 seats, the FSLN[?] won 37 seats, and the Conservative Party 1 seat. In addition, ex-president Aleman assumed a seat, as did runner-up Daniel Ortega. During the 2002 legislative term, Aleman will serve as President of the National Assembly.

The Supreme Court 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 or 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.

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.

Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by the Nicaraguan constitution and vigorously exercised by its people. Diverse viewpoints are freely and openly discussed in the media and in academia. There is no state censorship in Nicaragua. 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. 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. Nearly half of Nicaragua's work force, including agricultural workers, is unionized. Workers have the right to strike. Collective bargaining is becoming more common in the private sector.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
local short form: Nicaragua

Data code: NU

Government type: republic

Capital: Managua

Administrative divisions: 15 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento), 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas, singular - region autonomista); Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas, Atlantico Norte*, Atlantico Sur*

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution: 9 January 1987, with reforms in 1995 and 2000

Legal system: civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts

Suffrage: 16 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Enrique BOLANOS (10 January 2002); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; Vice President Jose RIZO Castellon
head of government: President Enrique BOLANOS (10 January 2002); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 20 October 1996 (next to be held NA October 2001); note - in July 1995 the term of the office of the president was amended to five years
election results (1996): Arnoldo ALEMAN Lacayo (Liberal Alliance - ruling party - includes PLC, PALI, PLIUN, and PUCA) 51.03%, Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 37.75%, Guillermo OSORNO (PCCN) 4.10%, Noel VIDAURRE (PCN) 2.26%, Benjamin LANZAS (PRONAL) 0.53%, other (18 other candidates) 4.33%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (93 seats; members are elected by proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections:


election results: percent of vote by party - Liberal Alliance (ruling party - includes PLC, PALI, PLIUN, and PUCA) 46.03%, FSLN 36.55%, PCCN 3.73%, PCN 2.12%, MRS 1.33%; seats by party - Liberal Alliance 42, FSLN 36, PCCN 4, PCN 3, PRONAL 2, MRS 1, PRN 1, PNC 1, PLI 1, AU 1, UNO-96 Alliance 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema, 16 judges elected for seven-year terms by the National Assembly

Political parties and leaders: Central American Integrationist Party or PIAC [leader NA]; Central American Unionist Party or PUCA [Blanca ROJAS Echaverry]; Conservative Action Movement or MAC [Hernaldo ZUNIGA]; Conservative National Party or PNC [Adolfo CALERO, Noel VIDAURRE]; Conservative Party of Nicaragua or PCN [Dr. Fernando AGUERO Rocha]; Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Virgilio GODOY]; Independent Liberal Party for National Unity or PLIUN [Carlos GUERRA Gallardo]; Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Jose RIZO Castellon]; Movement for Revolutionary Unity or MUR [leader NA]; National Democratic Party or PND [Alfredo CESAR Aguirre]; National Project or PRONAL [Antonio LACAYO Oyanguren]; Nationalist Liberal Party or PLN [Enrique SANCHEZ Herdocia]; Neoliberal Party or PALI [Adolfo GARCIA Esquivel]; Nicaraguan Democratic Movement or MDN [Alfredo GUZMAN]; Nicaraguan Party of the Christian Road or PCCN [Guillermo OSORNO, Roberto RODRIGUEZ]; Nicaraguan Resistance Party or PRN [Fabio GADEA]; Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN Daniel Ortega Saavedra; Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Sergio RAMIREZ]; Social Christian Party or PSC [Erick RAMIREZ]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Adolfo JARQUIN]; Unity Alliance or AU [Alejandro SERRANO]; UNO-96 Alliance [Alfredo CESAR Aguirre]
note: political blocs include: left - FSLN; center left - MRS, PSD, PSC, MUR, PIAC, AU, PCN, PND, PUCA, UNO-96 Alliance, and MDN; center right - PALI, PRN, PLI, PRONAL, and MAC; right - PCCN, PLC, PLIUN, PNC, and PLN

Political pressure groups and leaders: National Workers Front or FNT is a Sandinista umbrella group of eight labor unions: Farm Workers Association or ATC; Health Workers Federation or FETASALUD; Heroes and Martyrs Confederation of Professional Associations or CONAPRO; National Association of Educators of Nicaragua or ANDEN; National Union of Employees or UNE; and the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers or UNAG; National Workers Front or FNT is a Sandinista umbrella group of eight labor unions: Sandinista Workers Central or CST; Union of Journalists of Nicaragua or UPN; Permanent Congress of Workers or CPT is an umbrella group of four non-Sandinista labor unions: Autonomous Nicaraguan Workers Central or CTN-A; Confederation of Labor Unification or CUS; Independent General Confederation of Labor or CGT-I; and Labor Action and Unity Central or CAUS; Nicaraguan Workers' Central or CTN is an independent labor union; Superior Council of Private Enterprise or COSEP is a confederation of business groups

International organization participation: BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco AGUIRRE Sacasa
chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6542
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Oliver P. GARZA
embassy: Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: APO AA 34021
telephone: [505] (2) 662298, 666010, 666012, 666013, 666015, 666018, 666026, 666027, 666032, 666033
FAX: [505] (2) 669074

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on the top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; similar to the flag of El Salvador, which features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band

See also : Nicaragua



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