Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega powered toward his third consecutive term as president of the poor Central American country on Sunday, as voters cheered years of solid growth and overlooked criticisms he is installing a family dynasty. By fusing his militant past with a more business-friendly approach, Ortega stands in stark contrast to many once-dominant Latin American leaders, whose popularity has plummeted in recent years after failing to guarantee gains in economic prosperity. The 70-year-old former guerilla fighter, who is running with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, had 72.1 percent of votes, with 66.3 percent of polling stations counted, the electoral board said. The announcement sent hundreds of his leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party supporters out into the streets of Managua to celebrate.
Ortega’s main opponent, the center-right Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) candidate Maximino Rodriguez, was a distant second with 14.2 percent of votes, the board said.
“I’m euphoric, thanking God for this opportunity, this triumph, so the people continue to reap benefits,” said Ana Luisa Baez, 55, a widow and mother of four who runs a small store out of her home.
“Thanks to the (Sandinista) revolution, I have faith I’ll be able to keep moving forward, because we are backed by a good government,” she added, as car horns honked and motorcycle riders wove through Managua’s Plaza de las Victorias waving red and black Sandinista flags.