On June 2, 2021, the Intern-American Court of Human Rights was referred a case from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights concerning Fabio Gadea Mantilla, a former candidate in the 2011 Nicaraguan presidential race. According to a press release from the OAS, it was contested that the country possessed the primary responsibility of securing and upholding Gadea Mantilla’s right to become an electoral candidate, which it failed to accomplish. This is in reference to his past participation in 2011, where he was listed as a prime candidate for the presidency. In March of 2011, the presidential seat was occupied by Daniel Ortega, and despite the illegality of Ortega seeking re-election, he won by a majority vote of over 62%. This was addressed and argued before the Supreme Electoral Council by both Gadea Mantilla and other competing parties, which was dismissed, and the decision finalized. According to constitutional precedent, the Council has the last word on these matters and appeals are simply not possible. The main issue to be determined was whether executive power was being overextended, impeding on democratic processes as outlined in Article 147 of the Constitution, which limits presidential candidates to two terms. The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice failed to see any validity in referencing this, but the IACHR asserted its stance on this practice being a direct contradiction to foundational principles of inter-American democracy.
This point was seconded by outside global institutions, such as the European Union. The issue of election equality was contested, and the Commission ultimately decided that states need to be cooperative parties with the precedents outlined in the American Convention, despite the conflicting processes between global democratic policy and internal jurisdiction. The Commission judged the Nicaraguan election process as one that worked against Gadea Mantilla’s ability to become a viable candidate, with President Ortega utilizing his available resources to guarantee an electoral win. This was considered a violation of democratic principle on both an individual and communal level since the rights of voter participation and assertion were being compromised. The IACHR also confronted the judgment of the Council, which was in violation of the constitutional rule of limiting presidential terms. The state of Nicaragua was deemed the primary responsible party and was given the following recommendations: 1) ensure fair election processes are secured; 2) the Council possesses its own independence from other branches of government; 3) make it possible for those branches to issue objections and/or challenges to Council decisions.