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Public confidence in Nicaraguan democratic institutions has diminished substantially over the past decade, as international and domestic election observers documented irregularities in presidential and municipal elections beginning in 2008. In November 2016, Daniel Ortega won a third consecutive term as president, and Ortega’s party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, FSLN) again won a dominant position in the National Assembly in an election marked by high abstention following a controversial decision to disqualify prominent opposition forces from participation. In January 2014, the FSLN-dominated National Assembly passed constitutional reforms eliminating presidency term limits, removed the minimum required percentage of votes for presidential elections and allowed the president to issue decrees with force of law.
Although citizen satisfaction with President Ortega’s administration remains high according to many public opinion polls, the increasing politicization of institutions and the lack of impartiality of election administration have negatively affected public trust and the country’s democratic development. To ensure that the next generation of leaders is equipped to rule democratically and transparently, since 2010 NDI has partnered with Nicaraguan universities and civic organizations to conduct a youth leadership program, which has helped to prepare over 2,000 current and future young leaders from across the country. NDI has also contributed to Nicaraguan efforts to support increase women's political participation and initiatives to decrease discrimination against LGBTI people, and shared best practices for monitoring electoral processes.
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