The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today received the report of the electoral mission that accompanied the municipal elections in Nicaragua on November 4, which noted the advances in the quality of the process resulting from the recent electoral reform, while urging further improvements to the voting system.
The Chief of Mission, Mexican politician Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, noted that the election took place in a "peaceful environment" and that members of the OAS Mission "were granted all the access they needed to perform their tasks." Cádenas Batel, former Governor of the state of Michoacán and former legislator in his country, was appointed to the task by the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza.
The team leader emphasized that "the recent electoral reform, which took into account previous recommendations of the OAS, was a significant advance. The Mission believes that there is an opportunity for further improvement in the Nicaraguan electoral system, understanding that processes like this must be carried out according to the sovereign will and possibilities of each country." In particular, he stressed that the Law 790 passed on May 15, 2012, allowed for "the introduction of gender parity with compulsory rotation in the preparation of the lists of candidates for elections to both the National Assembly and Central American Parliament."
Among the recommendations in his report, Cárdenas Batel recognized that in terms of accreditation, the decentralization of their delivery at the municipal level was a positive, although "days before the election there was some difficulty in some departments, particularly in Managua. Thus, we see the need to refine the procedures."
Regarding the integration of the polling stations, the Mission reiterated the recommendation made in earlier processes to reform the criteria considered for their makeup, so that they be composed of randomly selected citizens and not party members. Regarding the transmission and publication of results, the Mission suggested the publication of the image of the tally sheets from each of the polling stations.
Regarding the electoral roll, Cárdenas Batel stressed "the commitment of the Supreme Electoral Council to implement a cleaning mechanism using a passive list and an active list of voters," at the same time it recommended "the consideration of additional procedures to continuously clean the voter registry." Finally, the Chief of Mission said "for the purpose of keeping with the spirit of the law of autonomy of the two regions of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, which recognizes that the languages of both communities will be in official use therein, we consider their inclusion in future processes important, in order to prepare election materials and conduct election training in the native languages of the communities mentioned."
In the municipal elections of November 4, 153 mayors and 5,792 councilors were elected nationwide. The Mission was composed of 26 people from eleven Member States of the organization, who were present in ten of the fifteen departments of the country. On Election Day, the delegates of the OAS Mission visited 233 polling stations in 38 municipalities. Six parties or alliances of parties took part in the elections: el Partido Liberal Constitucionalista; la Alianza Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional; el Partido Conservador; el Partido Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense; el Partido Alianza por la República; and la Alianza Partido Liberal Independiente. In three municipalities in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region, the organization YATAMA participated as seventh party.
The Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the OAS, Denis Moncada, noted after the presentation of the report that "Nicaraguans exercised their right to vote in peace and tranquility" and as the OAS Mission noted, "the elections were conducted in a atmosphere of civility, carrying out the vote peacefully."
Ambassador Moncada stressed that "for the first time in elections in Nicaragua, 50 percent of the candidates were women, as laid out in the Gender Equality Act, amendments to the Municipal Law and the Electoral Law adopted in March of this year." Along these lines, he continued "the women of Nicaragua claimed a right for which they have fought for decades."
Following the presentation of the report in the regular meeting of the Permanent Council, the Representatives of the United States, Canada, Venezuela and Bolivia all took the floor.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.