WHO won the election yesterday? Panama, that's who. After 47 inconclusive ballots for a place on the UN Security Council between US-backed Guatemala and leftist Venezuela, the compromise country sailed through yesterday with
164 votes, a comfortable margin over the 120 needed. Panama will now join the other four new members of the Security Council -- Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa -- for a two-year term. Regional groups in the UN have relatively little difficulty in agreeing on a country to serve on the Security Council but the Latin Americans are an exception. The longest-ever voting session was in 1980 when there were 155 rounds before Cuba and Colombia agreed to give up the fight and Mexico was chosen instead.
Oh, the other election? Well, Daniel Ortega seems set to be the next president of Nicaragua in one of the most remarkable come-backs even in Central America's volatile political scene. Mr Ortega was a Marxist president from 1984 to 1990 when he left behind a broken economy and an unfinished civil war against the Contra guerrillas. He fought the 1996 and 2001 elections unsuccessfully but this time seems to have persuaded the Nicaraguan people that he has learnt his lesson and will govern pragmatically. The United States, which backed Mr Ortega's main opponent, the Harvard-educated financier Eduardo Montealegre, will not like this further evidence of increasing leftist influence in Latin America.
Oh, those elections? Don't know yet.


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