Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega wins third term

With 99.8 percent of the vote accounted for, Daniel Ortega's FSLN won 72.5 percent of the vote for both the presidency and vice presidency (Nuevo Diario, 7 November 2016). President of the Consejo Supremo Electoral (CSE) Roberto Rivas announced that 68.2 percent of registered voters participated. The only sizable opposition from the five participating political parties came from the PLC, which received 15 percent of the total vote (La Prensa). However, the exclusion of opposition members through the judiciary, along with a lack of international observation, has raised concerns about the election. According to La Prensa, the opposition considers Ortega's leadership a dynastic dictatorship, as Ortega's wife Rosario Murillo will assume the vice presidency despite concerns over constitutionality.

Nicaragua most complicated place to do business in Central America

Nicaragua’s ranking in the World Bank “Doing Business” index fell to 127 (out of 190 countries evaluated), with 55.75 points out of a possible score of 100 (La Prensa, 25 October 2016). In the previous report, the country ranked 124 with 55.65 points. Major bottlenecks to competitiveness include issues related to building permit handling, property registration, protection of minority investors, and tax payments. Additionally, the country failed to implement new reforms affecting business competitiveness and fell behind other countries actively implementing reforms (Confidential). As such, under the current ranking, Nicaragua is the most complicated place to do business in Central America.

Nicaragua reaches 90 percent electricity coverage

On 17 October 2016, the Empresa Nacional de Transmisión Eléctrica (Enatrel) announced electrical coverage has reached 90 percent of the country. President of the Cámara de Energía de Nicaragua (CEN), César Zamora, hailed access to household electricity as being the most important achievement by the government (El Nuevo Diario, 18 October 2016). He added that in the past ten years, electrical coverage expanded dramatically from 50 to 90 percent. Nicaragua has invested more than US$600 million in the last ten years, reaching 1.8 million subscribers to electricity services (El Economista). According to Energy and Mining Minister Salvador Mansell, the goal for 2017 will be to reach coverage between 93 and 94 percent.

Nica Act expected to impact Nicaragua's economic growth

According to Funides Director General Juan Sebastián Chamorro, the proposed United States law known as the Nica Act would provoke a decline in public sector investment and would reduce investments by 5 percent between 2018 and 2020 (Estrategia y Negocios, 12 October 2016). The study, organized by Funides, was presented to a group of Nicaraguan entrepreneurs and economists. Some scenarios from the study concluded between 1 to 1.5 percent of economic growth would be affected by the Act (Nuevo Diario). Chamorro identified three scenarios the country could face: Nica Act isn’t approved; the Act isn’t approved, but indirectly creates adverse economic expectations among investors; and the direct and indirect impact if the Act is approved, which would impact the public sector and generate adverse economic expectations among investors. The study concludes that to guarantee future growth, the country should strengthen institutions and improve the rule of law.

Political opposition in Nicaragua agrees to unite against President Daniel Ortega

Members of Nicaragua’s political opposition met on 9 October 2016 in the northern city of Somoto to sign an agreement to unify in protest against President Daniel Ortega and denounce the 6 November election as a “farce” (Estrategia y Negocios). The agreement pledges signatories to work together in a manner that is “transparent, coherent, active, and only and exclusively for the common good.” However, the opposition will not participate in the upcoming election where Ortega seeks a third consecutive term in office against five minority parties who together represent no more than 10 percent of the electorate (La Prensa). Many of the signers included those barred from the November election by the Electoral Tribunal, such as former opposition candidates for the Coalición Nacional por la Democracia (CND), Luis Callejas and Violeta Granera, as well as members from the Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista (MRS) and the Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC). National elections on 6 November will include the election of the president, vice president, national representatives, and members for the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).