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 Daniel José 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 are scheduled for late 1996, although pressure has been mounting for these elections, to be advanced also.