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Ortega Is Likely Winner of Nicaraguan Vote

Supporters of presidential candidate Daniel Ortega celebrate in the streets of Managua.
Miguel Alvarez / AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of presidential candidate Daniel Ortega celebrate in the streets of Managua.

Daniel Ortega appears to be headed for victory in Nicaragua's presidential elections, as partial election results show the former revolutionary holding a substantial lead over his rivals.

With returns in from nearly 50 percent of polling stations, the Sandinista Party candidate has just over 40 percent of the vote. If Ortega maintains that gap, he would win outright.

Ortega has said he is not the Marxist revolutionary that he was when he led the country in the 1980s. In his campaign, Ortega has sought the favor of Nicaragua's business community. And his vice-presidential candidate is a former Contra rebel leader.

But Ortega's victory would mark another step in South America's leftward drift, a development that Nicaragua's neighbors -- and the United States -- have sought to influence.

Officials in the Bush administration have promised to cut off aid and limit trade with a Sandinista government.

And Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has embraced Ortega, sending cheap fuel and fertilizer to Nicaragua, the poorest country in Latin America.

So, far, international election observers have raised no questions about the legitimacy of the vote.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
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