International Relations
Online ISSN : 1883-9916
Print ISSN : 0454-2215
ISSN-L : 0454-2215
Latin America: Domestic Politics and International Relations Revisited
The Process of Personalization in Nicaragua: An Analysis of Four Factors from Domestic, International, Short-Term, and Long-Term Perspectives
Suguru OSAWA
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2022 Volume 2022 Issue 207 Pages 207_33-207_48


This paper explores how personalization was formed in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega according to four factors: short-term, long-term, domestic, and international perspectives. Latin America and the Caribbean countries have been strongly influenced by U.S. national strategies. Thus, Nicaraguan politics is often structured by its relationship with the U.S. and regional powers. However, the final decision of political regime change is made by domestic actors. Therefore, the process of personalization must be considered in both domestic and international politics.

Populism is an important concept that explains recent personalization in Latin America. Ortega criticizes the U.S.-led globalization to gain support from the people. Furthermore, populist ruling methods are similar to those of personalized rulers. However, is there an understanding that personalization is a political phenomenon that can always be explained by populism? In fact, the study of Nicaraguan politics has emphasized not only short-term factors, such as populism, but also long-term factors such as political culture. How can the ongoing personalization in Nicaragua be explained from both the long-term and short-term factors?

The FSLN administration tried to democratize the country to get support from the international community, but this decision triggered a regime change. However, for the new administration, a coalition against the FSLN was the only factor to bind them together. This situation led to conflicts within the government, and it was difficult to efficiently manage the administration. To overcome this difficulty, the ruling party decided to cooperate with the FSLN. In this way, the FSLN returned to power; in the meantime, it had already transformed into Ortega’s personal party. The pact between the ruling party and the FSLN determined Ortega’s return to power. Since then, Ortega has personalized not only his party but also its political regime with a skillful diplomatic dance between regional major powers and the U.S. This tendency has accelerated by less support from international society.

The analysis shows unequivocally that domestic and international factors always had an impact on political regime change in Nicaragua. However, personalization is formed mainly by domestic factors, and external factors have reinforced the domestic movement in Nicaragua. In addition, this study shows that it is difficult to explain the process of Ortega’s personalization according to short-term factors such as populism. Instead, it is a long-term factor, such as a traditional power-sharing method in a duopoly, that pushed Ortega’s personalization forward. The interaction of these four factors defines Nicaragua’s personalization.

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© 2022 The Japan Association of International Relations
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