On Sunday, El Salvador’s 4.5 million voters went to the polls to select the 84 deputies of the unicameral congress as well as the mayors of the 262 municipalities across the country. As with most off-year elections (ones without a presidential candidate on the ballot), this election was seen as an important gauge of public sentiment in preparation for the 2014 presidential elections. There have been important changes in the political landscape of El Salvador since the last presidential election that makes this an important election to analyze. In 2009 the FMLN, with Mauricio Funes at the lead, won the presidency after almost 20 years as the primary opposition party in the country. In true democratic fashion, the people gave the opposition a chance to govern. For its part, after governing the country for almost two decades the center-right party ARENA was seen as stagnating and in need of rejuvenation. The final outcome of this process of entropy had seen ARENA struggling to contain fallout emanating from a brutal struggle between itself and former President Tony Saca.
The rift, which started with the former President’s refusal to hand over the presidency of the party in early 2007 and many other allegations of corruption and abuse of power, led to the former President being expelled from the party and creating his own political party GANA in an attempt to continue in power and position himself for a return to the presidency in 2014. For the above stated reasons, this election was, among other things, a plebiscite on the FMLN’s successes in governing and ARENA’s rebuilding efforts – and a measure of former President Tony Saca’s ability to stand on his own. After a long day of voting, the results showed a country that has shifted slightly but significantly over the last three years.
The first point to note is that the results place ARENA again as the primary single political entity in the country. Initial reports from the Electoral Commission give ARENA 33 deputies, with FMLN a close second with 31 and GANA a distant third with 11. The others will be awarded to some of the smaller parties.
Full Article: Joel Hirst: Examining El Salvador’s Vote | Fox News Latino.