The Sandinista leader promised to defend his social and economic achievements and continue with Nicaragua’s strong economic growth.
Incumbent president Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN, is ahead with 71 percent with almost a quarter of the votes counted, the head of the country’s elections body announced Monday morning.
With turnout at 65.3 percent, Maximino Rodriguez, candidate of the center-right Liberal Constitutionalist Party and a former right-wing paramilitary fighter, was trailing significantly at just over 16 percent, Roberto Riva of the Supreme Electoral Council stated.
Polls closed at 6 p.m. local time Sunday in a vote that was characterized as peaceful and orderly in a vote.
Nicaraguans where called to choose a president, vice-president and members of the National Assembly to govern the Central American country for the next four years. Ortega, the former guerrilla leader of the leftist FSLN, had been polling ahead of his closest rival by over 60 points through most of the campaign.
FSLN supporters began celebrations in the early hours following the announcements.
A section of the opposition calling themselves the Broad Front for Democracy responded prior to the preliminary results, saying they would not recognize the legitimacy of the vote. While some Sandinista opponents and media have attempted to call the vote into question, Nicaragua officials and government supporters say this is a political ploy to undermine a government that has the support of the vast majority of the country.
In a speech after casting his vote, Ortega responded to some of the criticisms of the Nicaraguan electoral process, saying it was a long struggle to establish a process run exclusively by Nicaraguans.
“They say we don’t have elections here because there is no exchange of hate-filled words,” said Ortega, who highlighted the tranquil nature of the campaign.
“He (Ortega) is the only person who has worked for the poor, and he will keep doing it, because that is his essence,” 64-year-old retiree Jose Vicente Pong told Reuters while casting his ballot in the capital city Managua Sunday morning. “He comes from poverty, and he’ll keep working for the poor.”
Ortega, along with his partner and running mate, Rosario Murillo, voted late in the evening, casting their ballots in the capital of Managua shortly before polls closed.
This was the seventh time that Ortega stood as candidate for the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The first time was in 1984 when he was elected president and ruled the country for six years before losing the 1990 election. He returned to power in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011.
The electorate also decided on 92 members of the National Assembly and 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament, Parlacen.
The Nov. 6 election featured more than 120 international observers, who according to the electoral authority have “wide” experience. This group includes former presidents and heads of state and even a delegation of the Organization of American States. Invited election observer Santiago Rodríguez, vice president of the Central American Integration System, reported “very good coordination” of the voting process Sunday morning.
According to national police, there were no incidents to report concerning the opening of 14,581 polling stations across the country. Hours after polls opened, authorities reported that election day was running smoothly and without any delays.
However, one serious incident was reported in the town of Nueva Guinea, where a group of approximately 50 armed men broke into a polling location and burned election material.