Nicaraguan civil society caught in the pendulum's swing? Shifting roles from service delivery to lobbying and back
Until the end of the 1990s, Nicaragua was marked with social conflict and internal political struggles. From 2000 until 2006 Nicaragua experienced a relatively democratic period, in which the country drafted Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) with participation of the civil society. In this period, the openness of the political system and the participatory dimension of the PRSPs helped to strengthen civil society and increase policy influencing. As a result a shift took place away from service delivery and towards more lobbying and advocacy. The election of Ortega in 2006 (Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)) as president introduced the shrinking of this democratic space. From that moment onwards, donors encountered difficulties in dealing with the participation conditionality. At the same time, civil society organizations (CSOs) found it difficult to counterbalance the increasing undemocratic tendencies despite their efforts to organize mobilizations. This paper argues that the NAA, which pushes civil society into the watchdog role, is rather troublesome in contexts which are politically closing down. Imposing the single role of watchdog on civil society is ineffective. The NAA should not be treated as a rigid blueprint but, rather, as a guideline for policy implementation dependent on the actual situation in the country of concern.
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