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New Left Review I/182, July-August 1990


James Dunkerley

Reflections on the Nicaraguan Election

Following the defeat of the fsln in the Nicaraguan elections of February 1990, the state of that country’s politics remains unclear and unpredictable. Although there can be no doubt that Violeta Chamorro’s victory represents a major setback not only for the Sandinistas but also for the Latin American Left as a whole, it would be wrong to depict it as a categorical defeat of the Nicaraguan revolution. The revolution may indeed be over in many senses, but the fsln’s loss of governmental office has to be weighed against the fact that this was incurred through a fair poll freely convoked by the Sandinistas, whose vote massively outstripped that of any other single party. Equally, the fsln remained undefeated on the military front, and in the immediate after-math of Chamorro’s inauguration it was able to secure the effective integrity of the armed forces that had defended the revolutionary state for over a decade. These two factors alone possess a historical singularity, and underline the need for caution in assessing a situation that is as fluid and confusing in its detail as it is difficult to place in comparative context. Nonetheless, it is possible to make some broad observations as a first step beyond the tributes and expressions of resolution that immediately followed the election.

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