The latest poll by independent M&R Consultants covering the last quarter of 2019, shows that less than two years after the failed coup attempt of April-July, 2018, the Sandinista government, led by President Daniel Ortega is more popular than ever and all but a tiny minority of Nicaraguans reject the violent tactics and street blockades used by the US-supported opposition.
In the face of these poll numbers it is hard to maintain any credibility for the opposition and corporate media narrative that says Ortega is a dictator, the police are repressing the people, and that Nicaragua is collapsing into a failed state. The Empire’s solution is to ignore the numbers and continue to press the discredited narrative as if it were true.
The poll found that 52% say they strongly support the Sandinista Front (FSLN) and 60% say they are likely to vote for the party in the 2021 national election. 65% of those polled support the current government. 55% think that President Ortega is leading the country in the right direction and 59.7% hold a favorable opinion of his administration. Likewise, 59% think that the Sandinista government is a factor of unity for Nicaraguans and 58.3% say that it is a government that generates hope. A strong majority believe that the country has made progress compared to six years ago. 61.1% think that the current government is the best the country has ever had, while 69.3% responded that the Ortega government works for the general population. To each question roughly one-third of respondents disagreed.
Perhaps even more significant is that 53.8% of respondents say there is more security at present and 77.8% see the National Police as a very professional institution. One of the clearest signs that the coup attempt in 2018 was based on lies was its demonization of the police and attempt to portray them as if they were the same corrupt and violent institution as exists in neighboring Honduras. Those who have followed Nicaragua for decades know that, even during the neoliberal years of 1990-2006, every poll showed the police and the army as being the two institutions most respected by the population. That is simply not true in countries where the coercive powers of the state are venal and repressive.
I remember five or six years ago a naturalized Nicaraguan, former gringa, went with me to Honduras and she wrote to me after the delegation that she was so frustrated because her neighbors would simply not believe that in Honduras people feared the police. In Nicaragua, the National Police was born out of the Revolution to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship. The police have always walked with the people. Police departments from around the globe travel to Nicaragua to study its system of community policing, its job training programs for at-risk youth, its sports programs for the same, and its women’s police stations where abused women can find a safe space to seek protection and justice.
The third significant finding of the M&R poll was the nearly universal rejection of the violent tactics of the US-funded opposition. 92.2% of respondents said they disagreed with the statement: “It doesn’t matter that the roadblocks prevent people from going to work, it doesn’t matter that the roadblocks prevent the movement of merchandise, it doesn’t matter that the economy is damaged because that is the price the population must pay to overthrow the Sandinista government.”
Even a higher 93.6% rejected the statement, “We must return to the streets, it does not matter that people are unemployed, what is important is to overthrow the government.” 87.4% also disagreed with the statement, “The roadblocks are an extraordinary idea.” Finally, 82.5% of those polled agreed that “it is the people through their vote who should decide who should govern and when.” Only 16.5% is in favor of the government being replaced, while over two-thirds (68.5%) reject pressure on the country by the international community to have early elections. 69.6% rejects attempts to remove the president of the Republic, 21.6% approve, and 8.8% are uncertain or did not respond…
If I were an opposition leader, I would be pretty damned depressed by the M&R poll and if I were one of their handlers in the US State Department or National Endowment for Democracy, I would be wondering if my democracy manipulation budget wouldn’t better be spent in some other country.
The Sandinista Front continues to be the biggest political party in the country, with 52% support, the opposition in this survey polled only 23.9%, with 3.5% of that hard vote and 20.4% of soft vote. The remainder declared themselves independent. Of these independents, 28.4% tend to identify themselves with the FSLN and 24.1% with the opposition. 93.6% of those surveyed, who were all of voting age 16 and above, said they had a voter identification card.
Of the poll respondents, 55.8% believe that Nicaragua’s problems are economic and 29.4% believe they are political. A bit over one-third (36.2%) think about emigrating, which is high, but lower than historical levels and far below those of their neighbors in the Northern Triangle countries. Although only 17.5% stated that their family economic situation improved since last year, 27.1% said it remained the same, and 55.4% said it deteriorated, this was a 5-6% improvement over the previous quarter. 70.1% of those consulted were optimistic that in the next 12 months their family income will be better with greater purchasing power and employment.
These are not the conditions that create fertile ground for insurrection. Most people are poor, but remain optimistic about the future. They feel physically secure and opposed to violence. And they are relatively satisfied with their government and distrustful of outside intervention. This is the difference that a revolution makes. Nicaraguans shed much blood and endured much hardship to achieve their current state of peace, security, and hope for the future. The generations of revolutionary struggle have done a good job of passing their experience and the stories of their martyrs on to the generations that have grown up in the last 40 years. And the attempted coup built a bond between the historic combatants and the young Sandinistas who worked together to overcome the violence. Nicaragua is a small and impoverished country, but it is a country filled with the wisdom gained by blood and sweat and it is not a soft target for the bourgeois elites and the US hegemons. Nicaragua remains the “threat of a good example.”