Constitution of Nicaragua and Mary Alexander

The Constitution of Nicaragua was reformed due to a negotiation of the executive and legislative branches in 1995. The reform of the 1987 Sandinista Constitution gave extensive new powers and independence to the National Assembly, including permitting the Assembly to override a presidential veto with a simple majority vote and eliminating the president's ability to pocket veto a bill. Both the president and the members of the unicameral National Assembly are elected to concurrent five-year terms.

Contents 1 History 1.1 The Executive 1.2 The Legislature 1.3 The Judiciary 2 See also 3 References 4 Bibliography 5 External links


The Nicaraguan Constitution promulgated on January 1, 1987 provided the final step in the institutionalization of the Sandinista regime and the framework under which the Chamorro government would take office. It was the ninth constitution in Nicaraguan history. The Sandinistas' revolutionary mythology and aspirations were glorified in the preamble, and the Nicaraguan Army was constitutionally named the Sandinista People's Army. Yet, even though drafted and approved by a Sandinista-dominated assembly, the constitution was not a revolutionary document.

It established a democratic system of government with a mixed economy based on a separation of powers that could guarantee civil liberties. There was some discontent with parts of the new system. Early objections were raised that the executive branch was too strong, that property rights were not adequately protected, and that some of the language was vague and subject to widely differing interpretations. These objections continued to be an issue under the Chamorro government. The Executive

The constitution provides for a strong executive branch, although the legislative and judicial branches retain significant powers of their own. Under the constitution, the president has broader powers than does the president of the United States. The president is commander in chief of the military, has the power to appoint all ministers and vice ministers of his or her cabinet, and proposes a national budget.

The executive shares legislative powers that allow him or her to enact executive decrees with the force of law in fiscal and administrative matters, as well as to promulgate regulations to implement the laws. The president assumes legislative powers when the National Assembly is in recess. He or she has extraordinary powers during national emergencies, including the powers to suspend basic civil liberties and to prepare and approve the national budget.

The president's term was set at six years by a decree promulgated in January 1984, during the period when the country had no constitution. Elections held under that decree resulted in José Daniel Ortega Saavedra's beginning a term as president on January 10, 1985. The 1987 Constitution reaffirmed a six-year term for the president. Esquipulas II, the international peace accord that ended the Contra insurgency, however, set February 25, 1990 as the date for the next election.

Violeta Chamorro assumed the post of president on April 25, 1990, more than eight months before the constitutionally mandated date of January 10, 1991. It was understood that Chamorro would serve for the additional eight-month period created by the advanced elections, as well as for the full six-year term from January 10, 1991 to January 10, 1997. The next elections were scheduled for late 1996, although pressure has been mounting for these elections, to be advanced also. The Legislature

The 1987 constitution replaced the bicameral Congress, which had existed under previous constitutions, with a unicameral National Assembly. The makeup of the National Assembly, first established under the 1984 decree and confirmed by the 1987 constitution, consists of ninety members directly elected by a system of proportional representation plus any unelected presidential or vice presidential candidates who receive a certain percentage of the vote. In 1985 the National Assembly had ninety-six members and in 1990, ninety-two. Terms are for six years, to run concurrently with the president's term.

The National Assembly has significant powers, and its cooperation is essential for the smooth functioning of the government. Under the constitution, representatives to the National Assembly propose legislation, which is made law by a simple majority of the representatives present if the National Assembly has a quorum. The National Assembly can override a presidential veto by quorum. The constitution also gives the National Assembly the power "to consider, discuss and approve" the budget presented by the president. The National Assembly chooses the seven members of the Supreme Court from lists provided by the president and has the authority to "officially interpret the laws", a prerogative that gives the National Assembly judicial powers.

The Chamorro administration has faced a legislature that, despite its division between the Sandinista members and the members of the UNO coalition, has proved a formidable power in its own right—and one with which the executive branch is often in conflict. In the 1990 elections, of the ninety-two seats in the National Assembly, the UNO won fifty-one and the FSLN gained thirty-nine. The FSLN won thirty-eight seats in assembly races, and President Ortega was given a seat under the provision granting a seat to each losing presidential candidate who earns a certain percentage of the vote.

Two other parties of the ten on the ballot gained single seats. One was won by the Christian Social Party (Partido Social Cristiano—PSC) in a legislative race; another was awarded to the losing presidential candidate of the Revolutionary Unity Movement (Movimiento de Unidad Revolucionaria—MUR), a breakaway faction of the FSLN. The only significant brake on UNO's power was that its majority of 55 percent fell short of the 60 percent needed to amend the Sandinista-approved constitution, a goal of some members of the UNO coalition. The slim UNO majority also presented practical problems for the UNO president because it was possible for relatively few defections from the UNO coalition to undermine the UNO government's programs and initiatives. The Judiciary

Under the 1987 constitution, the Supreme Court is an independent branch of government, whose members are selected for six-year terms by the National Assembly from lists submitted by the president. From among those members, the president selects the head of the Supreme Court. The constitution also provides that the Supreme Court justices appoint judges to the lower courts. Supreme Court justices can only be removed constitutionally "for reasons determined by law."

In National Assembly-approved 1990 reforms to the Organic Law of Tribunals, the Chamorro government enlarged the Supreme Court's membership from the constitutionally mandated seven justices to nine, as a way of breaking what was perceived as Sandinista domination of the court. Those seven members had been appointed to their six-year terms in December 1987, and their terms were to expire in 1993.

In 1990 President Chamorro also dismissed the court's Sandinista-appointed head and replaced him with one of her own choosing. The evaluation of this act depended on one's political point of view. According to Nicaraguan analysts, the nine-member court decided that it would take decisions only on the basis of consensus, a procedure some saw as guaranteeing Sandinista influence on the court, others saw as neutralizing Sandinista influence, and still others saw as effectively paralyzing the operations of the court. See also Politics of Nicaragua Government of Nicaragua

Mary Alexander and Constitution of Nicaragua

Mary Alexander (1693-1760).

Mary Alexander (April 16, 1693 – April 18, 1760) was an influential colonial era merchant in New York City.

Contents 1 Early life 2 Career 3 References 4 External links

Early life

Alexander was born in New York City to John Spratt and Maria Shrick (née Maria de Peyster), who were both from prominent families of colonial era New York.

Her father, John Spratt, was born near Glasgow, Scotland, and became a merchant in New York and a speaker for the irregular assembly during the Leisler Rebellion in 1689.

Her mother, Maria Shrick, was from a respected Dutch family of goldsmiths, and had first married Paulus Schrick, and then remarried to John Spratt in 1687. After Spratt’s death in 1697 she married again to one David Provoost, a merchant of Huguenot-Dutch ancestry. After Maria DePeyster died in 1700, the Spratt children went to live with their maternal grandmother.

In 1711 Mary Spratt married Samuel Provoost, a younger brother of her mother’s third husband. He was also a merchant as a haberdasher, dry goods importer and real estate agent. She invested her inheritance in his trading venture. She had three children with Provost before his death in about 1720. In 1721, she was married again to James Alexander, who had immigrated to America in 1715 and was one of the leading lawyers in New York City. During the next 39 years, Mary Alexander’s life was divided between caring for her growing family, continuing the Provoost mercantine enterprises, and supporting her husband’s political career.

Alexander had three children by her first husband, Samuel Provoost, and seven children by her second husband, James Alexander, who died in 1756.

Mary Alexander originally belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church but later became an Anglican. Her son John was the father of Samuel Provoost, the first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York. She is buried with her husband at Trinity Church, Wall Street. Career

Under her leadership, the Provoost business grew extensively. She imported goods on such a large scale that it was said that hardly a ship docked in New York City without a consignment of goods for her. She sold these goods in her own store and, during the French and Indian Wars, supplied William Shirley’s Fort Niagara expedition with food, tools, cannon, and boats. In 1743 her fortune was estimated at 100,000 pounds, and she and her family lived in a mansion on Broad Street.

One of her sons, William Alexander, became her business partner.

The Alexander Papers at the New-York Historical Society Library contain the records of the mercantile business.
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