In the last decade, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has implemented a political model that is officially called “christian, socialist, and solidary”. In fact, however, it is a competitive authoritarian regime. Since Ortega’s return to power, the country’s democratic quality has successively declined. Whereas in 2008, the BTI classified it as a “defective democracy”, it turned into a “highly defective democracy” in 2010 and finally into a “moderate autocracy” in 2018.
The Ortega government was able to do so with the help of Venezuelan money channeled through the regional organization ALBA. With these financial resources, as the book “El regimen de Ortega” shows, the president has built a system characterized by political patronage and clientelism that has ultimately consolidated his autocratic grip on power.
The actual political unrest in the country comes therefore as a surprise. The reason for the protests was a pension reform. But as ever more people from different social backgrounds joined the protests and the government responded with repression, it became clear that the actual unrest manifests a growing dissatisfaction with the non-democratic ‘Ortega system’.