Category Archives: El Salvador
Legislative elections were held in El Salvador on March 11, 2012. All 84 members of the country’s unicameral legislature, the Legislative Assembly, are elected through closed-list proportional represents in 14 constituencies corresponding to the country’s 14 departments. Each departments returns between 3 and 24 members (the most populous department, San Salvador). The legislature is elected to a three-year term, meaning that unlike in 2009, this election did not coincide with a presidential ballot held the same year. The President serves a single five-year term.
Salvadoran politics are extremely polarized and political parties are spectacularly stable and enduring by regional standards. Since peace deals which ended El Salvador’s 12 year civil war in 1992, two main political forces have dominated the country’s politics, complimented by two older parties which have lost their old shine.
Like most Central American countries, El Salvador was emblematic for its social inequality (a group of fourteen families, las catorce, controlled the country’s coffee-driven economy and 90% of the wealth in the 1930s) and its revolutionary rural peasantry (a peasant revolt in 1932 ended in a massacre). The military seized power of the country for good in 1931, and ruled, under various guises and through various warring presidents, until 1979. The military regimes which controlled the country were built on the traditional alliance of the military, las catorce and foreign interests (notably the United States). However, unlike in other Latin American countries, the Catholic Church, after the late 1960s, increasingly sided with reform and later with revolution. Under the guidance of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran church became a base of opposition to the conservative regime. The other main force of opposition during this time was the moderate reformist Christian Democratic Party (PDC) led by San Salvador mayor José Napoleón Duarte.
In 1979, a military junta with left-leaning ideals overthrew the conservative regime, initially ushering in high hopes for success but ending in disaster as the country slid into civil war, the government facing opposition from right-wing death squads and a revolutionary socialist guerrilla movement, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The government became increasingly conservative and was forced to crack down, but became increasingly powerless. José Napoleón Duarte, by now a conservative, was elected President in 1984 – with American support – but was powerless in a country which turned into chaos, whose economy was in ruins, whose government was corrupt and which was torn between right-wing death squads and well-implanted leftist guerrillas.
In 1989, the right, represented by the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a party founded by “pathological killer” and death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson, won the presidential elections. In 1992, the Chapultepec Peace Accords were signed, which led to the FMLN’s disarming and its integration into the political system. In the 1994 elections, the FMLN became the country’s second largest political force, but ARENA retained power – united in part by fear of the still rather left-wing FMLN – until 2009. Successive ARENA presidents since the peace deals followed neoliberal economic policies which had some success in boosting the Salvadoran economy.
It was only when the FMLN chose a centrist moderate candidate, former journalist Mauricio Funes, that it was able to win power in the historic 2009 elections. Since then, Funes has proven to be one of the region’s most popular presidents, despite increasing crime rates (the country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world) and a sluggish economy since the 2009 recession. His social policies, including free basic education and free uniforms and shoes for poor schoolchildren, have proven popular. His moderate, consensual and pragmatic approach has won him support from voters who are tired of polarized politics, between a markedly right-wing ARENA and what used to be a markedly left-wing FMLN. However, the FMLN’s left-wing, which would prefer an Ortega or Chávez in his stead, has been distrustful of Funes and Wikileaks revealed that the presidency suspected that the FMLN-controlled intelligence services had bugged the palace.
Funes retains strong approval ratings, but in large part the FMLN has struggled to tap into that presidential popularity. On the other hand, the ARENA suffered a major split in 2010 when 16 of its parliamentarians, led by former President Antonio Saca, founded a splitoff, the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) on the claim that ARENA has become too left-wing. Since then, GANA has tended to side with the FMLN minority in the legislature to help pass some of the government’s reforms, including tax reform. There are three other parties represented in the legislature: the PDC, a shadow of its former self and an ally of ARENA; the Party of National Conciliation (PCN), the old party of the military regimes and an ARENA stalwart; and Democratic Change (CD), a moderate centre-left party. By a technicality, the PCN and PDC disbanded in 2004 after it failed to clear the threshold for ballot access, but they were allowed to exist until 2011, when they were disbanded and refounded under the name Concertación Nacional (CN, ex-PCN) and the Party of Hope (PES, ex-PDC).
The results were:
ARENA 39.76% (+1.21%) winning 33 seats (+1)
FMLN 36.76% (-5.84%) winning 31 seats (-4)
GANA 9.6% (+9.6%) winning 11 seats (+11)
CN 7.18% (-1.61%) winning 7 seats (-4)*
PES 2.76% (-3.87%) winning 1 seat (-4)*
CD 2.14% (+0.02%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Others 3.19% (+1.89%) winning 0 seats (nc)
*There were CN/PES or PES/CN slates in three departments, who won a total of 1.4% of the vote and reelected one CN member. The CN member is counted with the CN, votes cast for these slates are counted as ‘others’.
ARENA’s victory was a significant blow to the FMLN and the government. The two parties had been roughly tied during most of the campaign, but ARENA ultimately won by a narrow margin. The division of the right did not seem to hinder ARENA that much, in fact it appears as if GANA took most of its support from smaller centre-right parties such as the old PDC.
At cause here is likely popular frustration with rising violence and homicides in the country, fueled by a local gang tied to the Mexican drug cartels. The murder rate has increased by 9% in 2011, reaching a homicide rate of 71 per 100,000 inhabitants, the second highest in the world after Honduras and far ahead of similarly blighted Guatemala (39) and Mexico (18). The government has been criticized for not doing enough to curb violence.
ARENA can likely block more ambitious attempts at reform, but the FMLN and Funes can avoid headaches through an alliance with GANA, whose presence ensures that the right remains divided between two warring brothers. Presidential elections are not due until 2014, when Funes’ single five-year term expires.
Local elections were held alongside these legislative elections. In San Salvador, incumbent ARENA mayor Norman Quijano won reelection in a landslide with 63.4% to the FMLN’s 32.6%. The right also took two historic FMLN strongholds in the greater San Salvador, winning Mejicanos with 43.6% to the FMLN’s 42.7% and Soyapango with 44.5% to the FMLN’s 44.2%. The FMLN held Santa Ana rather easily while GANA won San Miguel easily.
The TSE has released final results of the Salvadoran presidential election and data by department. The TSE reports approximately 62% turnout.
Mauricio Funes/Salvador Sánchez Cerén (FMLN) 51.32%
Rodrigo Ávila/Arturo Zablah (ARENA) 48.68%
The map looks like this. Funes won only 6 departments, while Ávila won 8. However, Funes won the most populous department, San Salvador, where 830k votes were cast, with 54.53%.
On another note, Funes has stated that he looks forward to working with President Barack Obama and the United States has stated the same thing.
With around 90% of the votes counted in the Salvadorian presidential election, the left-wing FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, a 49-year old former journalist, has won the election. It is the first time that the former far-left guerilla group has won the Presidency in El Salvador. The conservative ARENA has held power since its victory in 1992 elections, and its candidate (and current President) Antonio Saca won over 57% of the votes by the first round in 2004 (the FMLN won only 35.7%). The ARENA-ally PCN and the Christian Democrats ended up not running, claiming that they had no chance.
With very high turnout (86.2%), these seem to be the result given by a lot of international sources. However, the TSE’s website is, as always, broken.
Mauricio Funes/Salvador Sánchez Cerén (FMLN) 51.1%
Rodrigo Ávila/Arturo Zablah (ARENA) 48.9%
Funes has already claimed victory, and the TSE has recognized his victory.
Hopefully more stuff later.
Here are the full results for all 84 seats in El Salvador. Results for a few seats were withheld because a new vote had to be held in a municipality.
FMLN winning 35 seats (+1)
ARENA winning 32 seats (-2)
National Conciliation Party winning 11 seats (+1)
Christian Democratic winning 5 seats (-1)
Democratic Change winning 1 seat (-1)
I was lucky to fall across the Tribunal Supremo Electoral‘s interwebs site in my hunt for more detailed Salvadorian results. It seems that the final results are about. It seems as if the seat totals add up to only 81, and not 84, so it’s possibly the electoral system that alters seats based on votes (proportional representation by department, IIRC).
FMLN 42.83% winning 34 seats (±0)
ARENA 38.46% winning 30 seats (-4)
National Conciliation Party 8.71% winning 11 seats (+1)
Christian Democratic 6.72% winning 5 seats (-1)
Democratic Change 2.11% winning 1 seat (-1)
Under these numbers, ARENA-PCN has a majority (albeit very thin, 41 seats/81). With PDC support, it’s more comfortable. Interesting to note how inaccurate the preliminary results posted before this post were woefully inaccurate.
Below is an attempt at a map using slightly outdated numbers found a few days ago, so some of the stuff may have changed and I believe that the gray municipalities, for which they were no results, have come out. White are lakes, for lack of a better colour. Here are the results in the top 5municipalities in terms of population (2009, data from the World Gazetteer)
- San Salvador (550,828): FMLN 44.67%
- Soyapango (402,198): FMLN 55.53%
- Santa Ana (189,014): FMLN 46.39%
- San Miguel (174,467): FMLN 48.78%
- Mejicanos (165,652): FMLN 55.35%
Soyapango and Mejicanos are both suburbs of San Salvador.
In local elections, the makeup seems to have been generally similar. However, on a positive note for ARENA, it gained the capital of San Salvador. In terms of seats, ARENA won 120, FMLN alone won 75, PCN 33, FMLN-CD 18, PDC-FMLN 2, PDC-FMLN-CD 1, FDR-CD 1, CD 1. Full results by municipality are available on the TSE website.
These results point to a close race for the presidency in March, even though the FMLN candidate is leading opinion polls.
There are some early results in terms of seats coming from the legislative election held Sunday in El Salvador. The socialist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a former revolutionary guerilla group, seems to have defeated the ruling conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). No results from local elections also held on January 18.
According to Wikipedia and elsalvador.com, here are the results.
FMLN 37 (+5)
ARENA 32 (-4)
Christian Democratic 7 (+1)
National Conciliation Party 4 (-6)
Democratic Change 2 (-)
The conservative National Conciliation Party (PNC) is ARENA’s traditional allies, but ARENA + PNC gives them 36 seats. However, the Christian Democrats also side with the ARENA at times, and could provide the right-wing a majority.
However, FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes (a moderate within the FMLN, though his running-mate comes from the left of the FMLN) continues to lead the March presidential. According to a UTEC poll, he has 45.9% support against 28.6% for ARENA candidate Rodrigo Ávila. Around 21% are still undecided, according to that same poll. A candidate needs 50% +1 to win by the first round, or a runoff is held.