Managua - Nicaragua's leftist President Daniel Ortega is favoured to win November's presidential race, a poll showed on Wednesday, in a controversial re-election bid opposition leaders say is overstepping his democratic powers.
Ortega, a former guerrilla fighter and ally of Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez, would have 36 percent support if the elections were today, the poll by CID-Gallup published in El Nuevo Diario daily said.
The next closest candidates were former right-wing President Arnoldo Aleman, who won 23 percent support in the poll, and conservative politician Fabio Gadea with 17 percent.
The fractured opposition would have a chance at beating Ortega and his left-wing Sandinista party by forming an alliance, Aleman said after seeing the survey's results.
Opposition lawmakers accuse Ortega of turning the Central American country into a Cuban-style dictatorship but have tried and failed to overturn a 2009 ruling in the Supreme Court that lifted a ban on re-election. The court, controlled by the Sandinistas, overturned a constitutional clause blocking consecutive terms.
The Sandinista party has to officially select Ortega as their candidate on February 12. The poll surveyed 1 201 people in the first 15 days of January with a margin of 2,83 percentage points.
Ortega - a former US foe who fought US-backed government forces during a Cold War-era civil war - led the country after the Sandinistas won a 1979 revolution and a 1984 presidential election. He was voted out of power in 1990 but won again in 2006.
The US accused Ortega of corruption and other crimes, in US State Department documents published by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
One document said the government received “suitcases full of cash” from Venezuelan officials to fund 2008 municipal elections, which sparked protests and accusations of fraud after they were swept by the Sandinistas.
Guatemala, now run by centre-left President Alvaro Colom, also votes for a new president in November as the coffee and sugar exporting country struggles to contain spiralling violence from street gangs and Mexican drug cartels. - Reuters