Nicaragua president, wife lead polls for November vote

Managua (AFP) - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, have the support of more than seven in 10 voters three months before presidential and legislative elections, a poll released Monday showed.

Ortega -- a former leftwing rebel who has led the Central American nation since 2007 with an authoritarian hand -- is running for a third consecutive term.

He has nominated Murillo, already chief government spokesperson and a colorful character many see as an eminence grise, as next vice president.

At this point, little seems to stand in their way of winning the November 6 election, to which Ortega has barred outside monitors.

The opposition is fragmented and weakened by a court ruling that changed the leadership of a key party and booted many of its deputies from parliament.

According to the poll carried out by the M&R firm between July 27 and August 1, Ortega has 79 percent backing in the electorate, and Murillo has 73 percent.

The survey questioned 2,000 likely voters, and has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party has 65 percent support, the poll showed.

Raul Obregon, a spokesman for M&R, told AFP that "the middle and upper class is where the biggest proportion of FSLN voters are."

The poorer segment of the population is struggling with high food prices, lack of water and unemployment.

But even within that demographic, Obregon said, there was solid Ortega support because of the perception that government social programs were tackling those problems.