Nicaragua's Elections: The Die Is Cast
Any political X-ray will show that the Liberal Alliance and the FSLN are economic, political and social blocs with evident contradictions. Will the contradictions be manageable when either the Liberals or the Sandinistas are governing?
In Nicaraguan culture, everything is left to the last minute. Then, of course, it's improvised, with a heavy dose of ingenuity, and those making the decision hold their breath to see whether it turns out well or doesn't. Many decisions are being made this way in the final lap of the electoral race, and everyone's holding their breath. These last days have created an expectation incomparably higher than those preceding the 1990 elections. Right up to the last minute, the polls show Alemán and Ortega neck and neck. One of the two will, barring unforeseeable events, be President of Nicaragua, with a Constitution that favors his office less than at any other time in the country's history. Furthermore, as the polls also tell us, he will govern with a very pluralist legislature and an even more varied spectrum of colors in the municipal governments. These are new times in Nicaragua.
In 1990, the surprise didn't come until the vote count, whereas in 1996 this final lap is going from surprise to surprise. The most notable of these is the one emerging in the polls: the "decided" vote for Alemán has stopped climbing--or may even have dropped if one takes into account the margin of error in any poll--while the FSLN has been steadily advancing. Up until a few months ago, it was the other way around. Some Sandinistas fatalistically put Alemán in the presidential seat, and with ostentatious triumphalism the Liberals did the same. Meanwhile over 30 "centrist" parties struggled for recognition among the voters. Fifteen days before the elections, the center is as diffuse as ever, the FSLN is beginning to see itself as the winner, and Alemán is showing signs of real insecurity.
After predicting for months that he would "sweep" the elections in the first round, winning the majority of National Assembly seats as well as the majority of municipal governments, on September 25 Alemán worriedly spoke for the first time of having to compete in a second round against Daniel Ortega. Changing his tone to one of aggression, he threatened the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) with a massive demonstration if the delays in issuing voter cards to all those who had registered continued. Alemán also asked all "democratic" parties to withdraw their candidates and give him their votes because, if they don't, those votes will "go to the FSLN." He further announced that he will create a "Truth Commission" to clear up Sandinista crimes that have gone unpunished, and challenged Daniel Ortega to a public debate for the third time--comparing Ortega to Dracula because "he hides when he sees the crucifix." In the days preceding and following those harsh statements, Alemán's spokespeople nervously insisted that a fraud is being prepared in favor of the Sandinistas, be it political, technical or even electronic.
In the face of his onslaught, against the CSE, its pre sident, Rosa Marina Zelaya, remained as unflappable as her predecessor Mariano Fiallos. With respect to the cards, she expressed confidence that, despite the irregularities and delays ingiving them out, they will all be in voters' hands by October 12. She added that the incidents reported during a massive issuing of cards in mid September--including se veral alleged Liberal Alliance members who were arrested for trying to buy people's cards--"don't amount to much." Regarding the accusation of fraud, she serenely but firmly, said that "fraud is absolutely out of the question here. That's part of a very remote past."
In fact, October 20 will put both the CSE's technical capacity and the Nicaraguan people's political capacity to the test. On that day, some 2,420,000 Nicaraguans will be given six different ballots on which they must choose the President and Vice President, 70 departmental representatives and 20 national representatives to the National Assembly, 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament as well as mayors and council members for the 145 municipal governments. To do so, they will have about 32,500 candidates from 33 parties--some of them grouped into 5 alliances-- and 54 popular subscription associations from which to choose. To register their vote, about 1,800,000 will use their new photo identity card, another 1,051,000 who could not be issued their card due to problems in their civil register will use a temporary supplementary document. The 351,000 who registered in 26 municipalities where the application for ID cards was postponed until after the elections will use the "civic booklet" given to them at that time.
The CSE's effort to process the requests for ID cards in time for the elections has been Herculean. CSE officials describe the project, 90% of which was financed with foreign donations, as "an immeasurable technical problem." Once they started comparing the over two million registration forms with the Civil Registry, they discovered that the majority of children born out of wedlock were never registered by their fathers and only 65% of them had been by their mothers. Roughly 60% of those whose names were found in the Registry did not correspond to the name the person used on the form. It was also found that only about 30% of the deaths of parents had ever been registered.
Yet another example illustrates the headaches this process has given the CSE: when it sent workers out to issue the cards house to house, it discovered that about 400,000 Nicaraguans had changed their place of residence since requesting their ID card (less than six months in most cases)--and of course without advising the CSE of their change of address. As one CSE official remarked, "We're a country of nomads!" All this has made every step in creating a correct Civil Registry and simultaneous electoral role an excruciating one.
Liberal Alliance and FSLN:Although the distance that separated the FSLN and the Liberal Alliance has been shrinking considerably since mid year, the same cannot be said of the distances that still separate the different blocs grouped under the banners of Ortega and Alemán. These distances have not only remained, they have even grown insofar as each group tastes the possibility and at different moments the probability of an electoral victory.
The Various Blocs Within
Any probe into the interstices of both the FSLN and the Liberal Alliance reveals that both contain social, political and ideological blocs with latent yet evident contradictions. It must be remembered that the FSLN has been and still is a party built on the history of a broad front and the Liberal Alliance, since its origin two years ago for electoral purposes, is also based on a broad political coalition.
The more recent incorporation of new allies into the ranks of both is introducing still more contradictions. In theory, since both promise a broad based government, neither the Sandinistas nor Alemán's Liberals have any reason to exclude any political or ideological sector. During the recent months of the campaign, the FSLN has made an alliance with a sector of its old political military adversaries in the Nicaraguan Resistance, and the Liberals have allied with a sector of the Conservatives, their historic adversary. As a result of this alliance game, the FSLN is no longer made up just of Sandinistas, nor the Liberal Alliance just of Liberals. About the only social sector not represented in the FSLN is pro Alemán elites, just as no pro Sandinista elites figure in the ranks of the Liberal Alliance.
Neither Ortega nor Alemán can totally eliminate the tensions within their respective groupings, but as charismatic leaders both have been able to keep them within certain limits during the campaign. It remains to be seen whether or not the winner can still do so after taking office. To understand the most visible of these contradictions, we must look first at the composition of each grouping.
The Liberal Alliance Arnoldo Alemán, a successful coffee grower and litigation lawyer, does not represent the large Nicaraguan capita lists of oligarchic origins. In fact their instinctive rejection of him comes from the fact that he represents the self made "plebian" business owners, those who have had to work hard all their lives to accumulate whatever small capital they have. The old capitalist families look on Alemán as an upstart, an intruder into the country's traditional political life.
Alemán: a Conservative Liberal
Those who know Alemán well say he has never hidden his sympathies for the values that the first Somoza embodied in Nicaragua. Although of anti clerical Liberal roots, Alemán is profoundly conservative on religious, family and edu cation issues, as well as in his conception of authority, all of which make him a kind of "conservative" Liberal.
The large capital supporting the Liberal Alliance is largely that of the Somocista and Cuban exiles living in Mia mi, together with that of some non Somocista capitalists who remained in Nicaragua during the revolution. The Alliance also abounds with more modest sized capitalists, though the anti Sandinista intransigence and belligerence of many of them is every bit a match for that of its wealthier and more powerful backers. With their money, these bigger fish, both inside Nicaragua and in Miami, have bought themselves a strong position within the Alliance.
This extremely well organized sector dreams of carrying out a crusade to reconquer Nicaragua, cleansing it of any trace of Sandinismo and installing in its place a "Somocismo without Somoza"--or, to be more exact, a "Somocismo with Alemán." The Cuban American businessmen and politicians in this sector, those involved in the powerful lobby that made the absurd Helms Burton Law possible, also dream of turning Nicaragua into a strategic base for their struggle against Fidel Castro's government .
Alemán's Hard Core:The best known and most representative figure among the non Somocista capitalists who did not leave Nicaragua is Alemán's vice presidential running mate, Enrique "Churruco" Bolaños, a large cotton grower and agroindustrial producer affiliated with the historic Conservative Party. As a virulent anti Sandinista confiscated during the revolution, Bolaños is put to Nicaragua's Conservative oligarchy as a guarantor at Alemán's side, someone who can make Ale mán's program--and his person--credible and pala table. This scheme, however, has not quite lived up to expectations, perhaps because the oligarchs view Bolaños as a man who is just confrontational as Alemán, and fear that this team could launch them into an uncontrollable ad venture.
The Confiscated Group
Alemán's most cohesive and conflictual group of Alemán backers is made up of land and business owners confiscated by the Sandinista government. Their most immediate goal is to recover all their properties or else get a juicy indemnification for them. Their feeling of betrayal by the Chamorro government stems from the fact that it did not fully satisfy this demand. Worse yet, it dealt with the Sandinistas almost as allies, which the confiscated group will never forgive.
The Liberal TechnocracyThe upper echelons of Alemán's Alliance also contain Liberal technocrats, graduates of prestigious foreign universities. Some worked for the Sandinista revolution, but since the FSLN machinery was incapable of listening to their eco nomic proposals, they abandoned politics, disenchanted. A good number of them maintained close links with the Central American Business Administration Institute (INCAE).
Today they have felt a new surge of desire to participate in politics. They think that the Liberal Alliance will offer them the space to realize dreams that, as economists, professors, researchers or consultants, they have been nourishing over the years. With this hope they have allied with the politicians and modernizing sector of Alemán's business backers, who do not identify with Somocismo.
The road these technocrats propose to run is narrow and tortuous. Probably very few of them will make it all the way to the end, resisting the siren songs of their old high paying jobs. If the Liberal Alliance is unable to achieve a government with broad national support, their dreams run the risk of never coming alive. And if that happens, these technocrats face two options: either stay with the government, at the price of betraying their own civic ideals, or resign and return to civil society, to push from there the democratic transformations in which they believe.
Alemán's Most Numerous BackersOne also finds subsistence peasants, self made farmers, small scale manufacturers and a few merchants among the ranks of the Liberal Alliance, as well as a great number of those left unemployed and impoverished during these neoliberal years. All of these, together with sectors of the urban middle classes (salaried professionals, technicians and the like), represent the bulk of Alemán's sympathizers.
Part of the mortar that cements together this broad spectrum of individuals is having experienced the disastrous effects of the draft in their own families: the death of loved ones, the flight of young relatives into exile, etc. By supporting Alemán, they feel that they can "settle the score" with Sandinismo. They are also united by the frustration of never having improved their living standards under either the Sandinista or Chamorro government.
Since these sectors lack the economic resources and organization necessary to impose their perspectives within the Alliance, their capacity to make themselves heard stems mainly from their sheer numbers. Their ability to pressure thus depends largely on the electoral moment, after which their limited power will begin to deflate. If the Alliance wins the elections, one could predict this sector becoming the one that Alemán will try to mobilize every time he needs to impose his own strategy either within or outside of the Alliance.
The Contradictions:1. Nicaraguan and Cuban capital. Made up of such dissimilar elements, the Liberal Alliance is inevitably shot through with internal tensions. One of the most important ones is between the capitalists who live in Nicaragua and the Somocista Cuban capitalists of Miami. At first glance, this contradiction seems to have mainly to do with a problem of size: the capital in Miami is greater than it is inside, and thus has more power. Some think that, due to this economic power, the large capitalists in the exile community, and especially those of Cuban origin, would literally come and sweep away sectors of capital residing in Nicaragua such as banking, commerce, tourism and construction.
The problem, however, is not only quantitative. In addition to the size of this foreign capital, there is also its nature and the logic of its functioning. The capital of the Nicaraguan and Cuban exiles is predominately speculative, while the main nucleus of pro Alemán capitalists in Nicaragua is productive; its investments are located basically in the agricultural sector. Since their interests are not the same, what is good for one cannot be good for the other. Which of them would Alemán's economic policies favor?
2. Somocistas and Non Somocistas. This internal contradiction between Somocistas and non Somocistas is more political than economic. Many Liberals who have allied with Arnoldo Alemán do not identify with either Somocismo or his visceral anti Sandinismo. In private, and sometimes even in public, they do not hide their desire to distance themselves from the authoritarian leadership styles, characteristic of neo Somocismo, that both the figure and the discourse of Alemán evoke. They represent a new generation within the Alliance and are proposing a new modernized version of Liberalism. They consider it their historic mission to show that Liberalism is not necessarily synonymous with Somocismo in Nicaragua. The tensions between them and the Somocistas showed up clearly in the elections inside the Liberal Alliance to designate candidates for departmental National Assembly representatives and for mayor of a number of municipalities. In more than one municipality, these modernizing Liberals won out over Somocista candidates whose only offering was nostalgia and a resurrection of the past.
3. Liberals and Conservatives. Next we have the contradiction between the Liberal majority in the Alliance and the minority group of Conservatives that joined it. It is difficult to know exactly how many Conservatives did so, but it does not appear to have been a lot, and they seem not to have come from the Conservative base but from a sector of its upper echelons.
The union of Conservatives and Liberals seems stuck together with chewing gum since the pact they made for the electoral campaign only sought to close off any possibility of an alliance between the Conservatives and the Sandinistas. The Conservatives who entered into the pact did so in exchange for posts in the future government, which has spar ked serious tensions between them and Liberals who aspired to the same posts. These tensions could intensify if there is a second round of presidential voting and become even worse if Alemán wins.
4. Large and Small Producers. The last major contradiction within the Liberal Alliance is the one between large producers--mainly agricultural--and the motley world of small rural and urban producers who have gathered under Alemán's "untainted" red banner. (This identification--"bandera roja sin mancha"--carries a clever double message. On the overt plane, it is meant to distinguish the Liberal Alliance's solid red flag on the ballot from those of the two Liberal parties running independently, which were forced to adorn theirs with some other symbol. On the more subliminal plane, there is not an anti Sandinista alive who fails to recognize and warm to the dig against the Sandinista's famous red and black--tainted--flag. If there was doubt in anyone's mind about the latter message, it was dispelled on September 25, when the widow of National Guard colonel and top contra leader Enrique Bermúdez came to Nicaragua to support Alemán's campaign. "The polls show that Daniel is getting close," Alemán said in a press conference that day. Accepting the possibility of a second round, he added, "There would only be two colors left: the red of freedom and the black of mourning and death.")
Since the small producers do not control the Alliance, Alemán's economic policy will almost inevitably tend to fa vor the large ones. The macroeconomic dice are so loaded, as are those of the Alliance itself, that there is little likelihood of the country's small producers being pampered by an Ale mán government. No Liberal government any where in Latin America has done it so far, and the neoliberal government of Violeta Chamorro certainly didn't do it. In fact, an Alemán government would represent a continuity of the Chamorro economic policy for small and medium production, even if one takes into account the hypothesis that Alemán, once in office, will be able to reactivate the economy more than the Chamorro government could during its administration.
The FSLN: New and Old CapitalistsIn many respects the social fabric within the FSLN is as heterogeneous as it is in the Liberal Alliance, though with major differences. In the FSLN there is and always has been a good sampling of all the social sectors that make up Nicaraguan society: businesspeople, middle classes, peasantry, small producers and manufacturers, etc.
In the FSLN's leadership ranks one finds both Sandinistas who became capitalist entrepreneurs overnight on the back of the revolution and those who were already capitalists beforehand and succeeded in expanding their capital with the revolution's policies during the 1980s (as well as those noble few from wealthy backgrounds who donated their capital to the state for the duration of the revolution, which many of them thought would be forever). This marks a clear class border between them: the latter day capitalists are of plebian origins while the traditional ones came largely from the traditional oligarchy, as their surnames indicate.
Some of them, particularly the overnight capitalists, are the protagonists of the 1990 "piñata." During the Chamorro government, many of them were among the country's main investors and, in association with the Chamorro capitalists, used the state to favor their own businesses and increase their economic power even more. That joint activity showed that the alliance between some Sandinista and Chamorro elites was more than a simple political one on behalf of national stability. Some of these Sandinista capitalists are now among the most powerful entrepreneurs in the country. Many non Sandinista capitalists view them as the guarantee that the FSLN will not commit "revolutionary excesses" if it wins the elections. They have already proven their mettle: they were the ones who promoted the first neoliberal adjustments in 1988, and starting in 1990 were the ones who from the army, the police and other state institutions assured the Chamorro government's relative political stability.
Various Economic IdeologiesThe upper echelons of the FSLN also contain Sandinismo's ranking technocrats, some of whom are also businessmen. During the Chamorro government, the majority of these headed up NGOs or were officials of international agencies. Some even worked for the government itself. Others of lesser prestige worked as white collar administrators of Sandinista businesses.
From the political ideological perspective, the spectrum of thinking among these technocrats is very wide. Some on the left side of this spectrum favor broad state intervention in the economy to increase the demand for goods and services, especially increasing the purchasing power of the grassroots sectors. Others favor reactivating the economy by increasing the productive supply of goods and services itself. There are also those who favor state intervention from a more rightwing perspective: they think that economic reactivation can only be achieved through big investment projects and state promotion of infrastructure--aimed mainly at buttressing the assets of the Sandinista entrepreneurs. In the middle of all this are figures from the moderate right, who believe that continuing to apply the stabilization and adjustment policies--although with a more "human face"--is the price the FSLN must pay to reactivate the economy.
The Faithful and the CriticalAnother important sector within the FSLN is made up of a broad stratum of small and medium property owners who emerged with the revolution: they are owners of urban or rural land, houses, means of transport (buses and taxis), communication media, etc. They range from the FSLN's most faithful followers to its harshest critics. Those belonging to the first group profess undying faith in the FSLN's historic leaders, whereas those in the second are mainly intellectuals who never held high positions in either the state or the party--or if they did, have left them due to conflicts with those in power. Those few critics who still hold party posts try to publicly hide their discontent.
Their critiques are based on principle or on the resentments generated by the piñata. The latter have any number of sources: strictly ethical ones, the erroneous and secretive way these resources were distributed, or even the view that they themselves got significantly less in the piñata than those in charge of it gave themselves.
The demand they all share is democratization of the party. They were more critical when the election date was still far away. Now they have largely closed ranks behind Daniel and against Alemán, reserving their criticisms of the party leadership until afterward, whether the FSLN ends up in the opposition or again holds the presidential office.
The Poor and the SolidaryAlso within the FSLN are all the grassroots sectors that, whether or not they were benefited by the Sandinista revolution, have felt profoundly disillusioned by the Chamorro government they voted for in the 1990 elections. This sizable group includes small and medium producers from the city and the countryside, as well as the impoverished, unemployed and excluded.
Among this latter group figure the nearly 5,000 former commando group leaders from the Nicaraguan Resistance (RN), as well as some of its commanders, who signed an alliance with the FSLN on September 18 for a possible government starting in 1997. The main commitments were: no more draft; land titling and credit access for ex RN members; special programs for their war victims of war; and incorporation into the decision making apparatus of three ministries: Government, Natural Resources and Agrarian Reform. According to FSLN sources, some 25% of those who once belonged to the RN-- known at the time as "con tras"--are now in the FSLN Producers Resistance Triple Alliance. The act of signing by 4,487 RN members was in itself an historic event. Various sectors, especially the Sandinista Renovation Movement, both minimized its value and harshly criticized the presence among the signers of Benito Bravo (Comandante "Mack"), a former officer of Somoza's National Guard accused of brutal criminal acts while a contra commander.
This grassroots base also includes the young adults, who are now mature, as well as the adolescents, today young adults, who were formed with the revolutionary values of solidarity, generosity and honesty. They now have experience under their belts and want to participate.
The Contradictions:1. Upper and Lower Echelons. One of the most important contradictions within the FSLN is between the business and technocratic ranks of the party and its grassroots base. The first have enriched and "positioned" themselves in these past few years while the second have become even more impoverished. If this contradiction has been maintained within manageable limits so far, it is thanks to the Sandinista leaders, who make sure that their popular, populist and anti Somocista discourse keeps alive the memory of the good things that the revolution offered these sectors and that the Chamorro government was never able to repeat.
If the FSLN wins the elections, it will have to deal with the long postponed expectations of the grass roots. More than any other political party, the FSLN has in its favor long years of experience in managing these historic contradictions, since its social base has always been heterogeneous. But if its government team fails to reactivate the economy, this contradiction could become a permanent source of instability.
2. Alliance with Producers. Another important tension within the FSLN is the one between Sandinistas and their non Sandinista producer allies. The peak expression of this alliance was the designation of non Sandinista cattle rancher Juan Manuel Caldera as Ortega's running mate. Many are skeptical about the solidity and duration of this alliance and predict that it will eventually crumble if the FSLN comes to power. Others believe that it is absolutely necessary if the FSLN is to reactivate the economy, and that the FSLN, knowing that, will do everything possible to maintain and consolidate it. The FSLN seems to have learned the lesson of the 1980s: the country cannot move forward without the producers, much less against them. A breakdown of the alliance with the non Sandinista producers would throw the FSLN's current economic plan into crisis.
3. The New Generations. Yet another contradiction is the one between the historic Sandinista leadership and the new generations, some more along in years than others, who aspire to lead the party with new styles and ideas. The battles that went on before, during and after the FSLN Congress in 1994 unmasked these tensions.
Democratizing the FSLN would obviously alleviate this internal tension, but it is not easy for the party's historic leaders to do much more than they already have in this area. For one thing, the contradictions among these same leaders are not insignificant, and some have the capacity to mobilize their own loyal base against those of their rivals, which would revive the old divisions among "terceristas," "proletarians" and defenders of the "prolonged popular war." If the FSLN is elected, these internal conflicts will most likely take a back seat, much as family squabbles do when a larger and far more important task is at hand.
4. Promises v. Politics. The main contradiction will come up only if the FSLN wins the election: the one that will exist between the electoral promises of the Sandinista leaders and the economic policies of stabilization and adjustment that a Sandinista government will have to implement in this new unipolar world to avoid direct confrontation with the multilateral lending agencies. For all that, the world will be less adverse for the Sandinistas now than it was in the second half of the 1980s, since their economy wouldn't be bled to death by war and it would be able to count on financial support from the international community.
The FSLN Has the Edge on ExperienceThese internal tensions within both the Liberal Alliance and the FSLN could turn into sources of open conflict if either one of them comes to power. Some of them are similar: in both cases they exist among the grassroots sectors, the technocracy and large capital; between the populist promises of their leaders and the economic financial restrictions imposed by the multilateral organizations; between the traditional leaders and the new generation of cadres who aspire to renovate the party; between party militants and allies who do not belong to the party or share its ideology; between the most radical and most moderate sectors within the party.
The FSLN has the edge over the Liberal Alliance in experience: during the Chamorro government it showed that its potential hot spots of internal instability were quite manageable. It managed them "from below" through the leaders' influence on the base, and "from above" during years of co government with Chamorro's functionaries and technocrats. The same cannot be said of the Liberal Alliance, which has not yet governed the country. Alemán was mayor of Managua, but Nicaragua is much more complex than Managua, even if it is the capital and seat of the largest and most complex municipality.
Fear of InstabilityA major enemy hovers over Alemán and his Liberal Alliance. To what degree would the return to power of a lot of Somocistas and the arrival of Cuban Somocista capitalists from Miami translate into a source of political and economic instability for Nicaraguan society? To what degree would they circumvent the state institutions to "settle accounts" with the Sandinistas?
Many non Sandinista voters fear more than just the Somocista component of the Liberal Alliance. They are also worried about the fact that the Somocista and Cuban capital is not in the country, but safely abroad. Whatever its size, this capital will not be affected in the slightest by any amount of instability that its owners may create with their policies or their personal actions in the country. As Virgilio Godoy, the Independent Liberal Party's venerable presidential candidate, said in an interview with envío, this capital "has nothing to lose by what happens in Nicaragua."
That is not true for the capital of the Sandinista business interests or that of the many large, medium and small producers who are not Sandinista but who stayed in the country through all the hard years. A large part of them have their capital of whatever size invested in Nicaragua. Unlike the Somocistas and the Cuban exiles, they have a lot to lose if the Liberal Alliance comes to power and the country falls into even greater instability. As a result, they feel fear and doubt about an Alemán victory, even if they do sympathize with the Liberal Alliance's anti Sandinista and anti Chamorro positions.
Poverty+Frustration=InstabilityAlemán's group believes that it will be able to count on the unconditional support of Miami's powerful Cuban capitalists when it takes power. But it remains to be seen how unconditional their support will be and how many risks they will be willing to take to invest in a country in which, as the latest polls reveal, they will have to resign themselves to sharing power with the Sandinistas and representatives of the other parties who will surely win seats in the legislature and municipal governments.
In fact, what will guarantee greater stability for the nation will not be one party or another, but the coexistence of various parties within the state. This coexistence is one of the components of formal democracy. In Nicaragua's case, it could help the country go beyond any kind of democratic formality.
For some time into the future, the unemployment and poverty of the majority of Nicaraguans will continue to be the major source of instability for the nation. Now that will be joined by the frustration this majority will feel if everything remains the same for them once the electoral race is over.
With respect to the resources required to develop the social policies to which the majority aspires, the FSLN again has an advantage over the Liberal Alliance, in both its experience and its capacity to mobilize the bilateral support of European social democracy for health and education projects. It can also count on the support of the Communal Movement which, even with few resources, was able to maintain certain levels of popular mobilization around tasks that benefited the population during the Chamorro government. The Liberal Alliance, on the other hand, could get resources from AID for these tasks.
The polls have shown again and again that the immense majority of Nicaraguans, those who live in poverty or worse, agree on two issues: they want peace and they want economic reactivation. And that is what they expect in exchange for their votes. They are fed up with war and the language of confrontation. They only want to work and live in peace, with a decent living standard.
During the early 1980s, many of these poor had jobs, education and health, but from 1982 onward there was no peace, and they found it increasingly hard to bear the burden of the economic crisis that the war and the blockade brought. With the Chamorro government, they had peace but were without jobs, education or health care. Up to now, no government has been able to offer them both peace and economic reactivation. The new government's major challenge will be to present the international community with a proposal, previously agreed to by all the country's social sectors, that is geared toward gaining enough flexibility in the neoliberal prescription applied over the past six years that it can assure the majorities economic reactivation with employment--and peace.
The forces of small and medium production in the countryside and the city represent a subterranean movement in Nicaragua's economic and political culture. No post electoral government "of change" (Alemán) or "of all" (Ortega) can achieve post electoral consensus without their participation. The die is cast.