Joining the ranks of countries like Mexico, Venezuela and over 100 countries in the world, El Salvador passed legislation earlier this week allowing citizens living abroad to vote in the country’s presidential elections. With around 1.8 million Salvadorans living in the United States – around one-sixth of the country’s 6 million citizens – the absentee votes could have a huge impact in the country’s upcoming presidential elections where Salvadoran’s next year will elect a successor to President Maurcio Funes.“This is a historic day finally, as a state, we fulfilled the constitutional right for our citizens living abroad,” Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martínez said in a press release of the bi-partisan legislation. “Their voice and vote can be taken into account the political system, from anywhere in the world.”
In the heavily partisan Central American nation, lawmakers from the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) almost unanimously agreed on the legislation.
“In a country marked by deep political divisions, it’s impressive that all parties came together to vote in favor of voting abroad,” said Jason Marczak, director of policy at Americas Society and Council of the Americas. “Salvadoran lawmakers saw the large diaspora living abroad and the importance that the exile community has in the country, especially in terms of economics.”