Nicaragua is an official and practical constitutional democracy which advocates free representation and human rights and operates under the 1995 reforms of the 1987 constitution. There are 15 departments and 145 municipalities as well as two autonomous regions on the Atlantic coast in Nicaragua. The Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua guarantees freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and association and freedom of movement within the country as well as foreign travel, emigration and repatriation. Any discrimination based on birth, nationality, political beliefs, race, gender, language, religion, opinion, national origin, and economic or social condition is prohibited. Domestic and international human rights monitors are allowed to operate freely throughout the country. Anyone from the age of 16 and up may vote in Nicaragua.
The federal government of Nicaragua is composed of four groups: the Executive, Judiciary , Legislative, and Electoral.
The Executive Branch is headed by the President of the Republic of Nicaragua. The president is elected for a five-year term and has the power to appoint his or her ambassadors and cabinet members.
The Judiciary Branch includes the Supreme Court and subordinate appeals, district and local courts. The Supreme Court is composed of 12 magistrates who serve 7 year terms. These magistrates are chosen by the National Assembly from Presidential proposals.
The Legislative Branch is made up of the 92 members of the National Assembly. The National Assembly, the counterpart of the US Congress, is made up of members serving 6-year terms who are elected by party from departmental and national levels. If any presidential candidate in the race acquires a certain minimum amount of votes, they will be invited to serve on the National Assembly. For this reason many people choose to run for president without actually hoping to become president. In the last election, there were more than 25 candidates on the ballot. The National Assembly's power was recently strengthened by the 1995 constitutional reforms. These reforms, provoked by a natural fear of dictatorship, allowed the National Assembly to override any Presidential veto by simply reaching a majority vote. They also eliminated the President's ability to pocket veto.
Results of the 1996 presidenial elections:
Arnoldo Aleman (Liberal Alliance) 51%
Daniel Ortega (National Sandinista Liberation Front) 38%
Guillermo Osorno (Nicaraguan Christian Path) 4%
Noel Vidaurre (Nicaraguan Conservative Party) 2%
Other 19 candidates 5%
Seats held by the parties from the 1996 elections:
Liberal Alliance: 42
The Electoral Power is the group responsible for organizing and conducting elections, plebiscites and referendums.
Principal Government Officials:
President: Arnoldo Aleman
Vice President: Enrique Bolanos
Foreign Affairs Minister: Emilio Alvarez Montalvan
Finance Minister: Esteban Duque Estrada
Economy Minister: Noel Sacasa
Central Bank Minister: Noel Ramirez
Government Minister: Jose Antonio Alvarado
Agriculture Minister: Mario DeFranco
Defense Minister: Jaime Cuadra
Construction and Transportation Minster: Edgard Quintana
Health Minister: Carlos Quinonez
Education Minister: Humberto Belli
Attorney General: Julio Centeno
Labor Minister: Wilfredo Navarro