Is Ortega getting nervous?

Development: On 8 October Rafael Solís, a member of Nicaragua's supreme court of justice (CSJ), said that the CSJ’s constitutional chamber could decide (on 12 October) whether to admit appeals challenging the authority of the opposition Partido Liberal Independiente (UNE-PLI)’s legal representative ahead of the 6 November general election.

Significance: Solís’s remarks suggest that courts may revisit a decision by the supreme electoral court (CSE) on who is the PLI’s legal representative which could result in the exclusion of UNE-PLI candidates from the election. Fabio Gadea, the presidential candidate running as part of the Unidad Nicaragüense por la Esperanza-PLI (UNE-PLI) alliance, is currently second in the polls. The UNE-PLI alliance complains that, with less than a month until the election, the remarks by the government-controlled courts are aimed at fuelling uncertainty and suggest that, despite his lead, President Daniel Ortega feels sufficiently threatened to resort to such tactics.

Key points:

• The dispute within the PLI concerns three different factions, only one of which backs Gadea’s alliance. The alliance includes the Movimiento Vamos con Eduardo, of the dissident liberal Eduardo Montealegre, and the dissident Sandinista party Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS). It is positioning itself as the “anti-pact” option – a reference to the power-sharing arrangement between Ortega and Arnoldo Alemán, a former president (1997-2002) and current presidential candidate for the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC).

• The president and current legal representative of the PLI, Indalecio Rodríguez, points out that the deadline to contest candidacies has already expired. The CSE already ruled on the issue (of whether Rodríguez had the power to register the Gadea and his slate as candidates) six months ago, when it confirmed Rodríguez as the party’s legal representative.

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