Results for El Salvador’s bungled legislative and mayoral vote will not be available for another 14 days, the president of the country’s electoral authority said on Wednesday, blaming the delay on “sabotage.” Salvadorans on Sunday voted for 84 new lawmakers and mayors who will be in office for the next four years. But three days after the election, there are still no results. “There was sabotage in the transmission of electronic votes and we are going to present it in court and lots of people will be fired,” the president of the electoral authority, Julio Oliva, said at a news conference, adding that he would provide more details on Thursday.
Election authorities in El Salvador decided to skip the customary preliminary vote count and proceed straight to the final count after a series of technical mishaps. Meanwhile, candidates from both the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the main opposition party, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), have declared victories in key mayoral and legislative races. The delays are fueling suspicions and stoking harsh criticism toward the country’s voting authority, the Supreme Electoral Tribune (TSE).
Salvadorans go to the polls on Sunday to elect new legislators and local officials in a tight contest between the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, FMLN, and the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA, for control of the Legislative Assembly. Voters in El Salvador will also elect 262 new mayors, some 3,000 municipal council members and 20 country representatives for the Central American Parliament. For the first time, voters will be able to select individual candidates from any party rather than being forced to vote for a single party with an established list of candidates. Voters can still opt to simply choose a party.
After National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya announced he was no longer campaigning for president in a second-round vote, many journalists and politicians questioned why a runoff election was necessary at all since his decision effectively gave the presidency to Luis Guillermo Solís of the Citizen Action Party. Costa Rican law prohibits any of the two candidates in a runoff election from stepping aside. The constitution demands that the Costa Rican people vote on April 6. Voters will weigh their options and freely decide who is the best. The decision is theirs to make, and the future belongs to the voters, not the Legislative Assembly or a candidate who steps down. Only the people can make this decision. Candidates can withdraw from the race during a first round, but once entered into a second round, they are legally required to finish the process. This is not a whim or some old, unrevised piece of legislation; it was established after two bitter experiences in the country’s past. The people must vote, and a mandate must be given. Yes, it’s expensive and it may seem unnecessary, but democracy is funny that way.
A former Marxist guerrilla leader won El Salvador’s presidential election by less than 7,000 votes, final results showed on Thursday, and his right-wing rival continued to press to have the vote annulled. Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which as a militant group fought a string of U.S.-backed governments in a 1980-1992 civil war, won 50.11 percent support in Sunday’s vote, results showed. Challenger Norman Quijano, the 67-year-old former mayor of San Salvador and candidate of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party, had 49.89 percent support. He has filed a claim to annul the election due to fraud. The electoral tribunal’s president, Eugenio Chicas, said the five-member court unanimously validated the election results, showing that Sanchez Ceren beat Quijano by 6,364 votes.
The top commanders of El Salvador’s armed forces said Wednesday they will stay out of a presidential election dispute that pits a conservative candidate against a former leader of the leftist rebels the army fought in a 12-year civil war. Conservative ARENA party candidate Norman Quijano is organizing Venezuela-style protests against preliminary returns from Sunday’s ballot that gave leftist candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren a razor-thin 0.2-percent margin. Quijano claims fraud was committed but he has presented no evidence. Quijano had called on the army to defend against the alleged fraud, but the defense minister, Gen. David Munguia Payes, and the army’s top commanders said at a news conference that they’re staying out of the dispute. “We are committed to respecting the official results that are issued by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal,” Munguia Payes said. “We repeat that we are committed to strictly respecting the sovereign decision that the people of El Salvador expressed at the ballot box.”
A recount of the results of El Salvador’s presidential election will be completed no sooner than Thursday, the country’s election authorities said Tuesday, following a surprisingly close run-off vote over the weekend. Fewer than 7,000 votes separated former guerrilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren from conservative rival Norman Quijano, according to a preliminary count on Monday. Initial results showed that the left-wing candidate Ceren claimed 50.11% of the vote, while Quijano, the right-wing mayor of the capital city, won 49.89% of ballots. While the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said it would not announce a winner before a manual count had been completed, it expressed doubts the preliminary results would be reversed.
A former Marxist rebel commander’s tiny lead in El Salvador’s presidential election is irreversible, the country’s electoral tribunal said on Monday, but his right-wing challenger demanded a full recount, insisting he was the real winner. Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which as a rebel group fought a string of U.S.-backed governments in the 1980-1992 civil war, claimed victory on Sunday after preliminary results showed he had won 50.11 percent support. Challenger Norman Quijano, a former mayor of San Salvador and candidate of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party, had 49.89 percent support. The two men were separated by just 6,634 votes.
Salvadorans vote Sunday in a presidential election that may give former leftist rebels a second chance at government — or return national leadership to the right-wing party that ruled the country for two decades. Opinion surveys have shown an extremely tight race, especially with the entrance of a new third party run by a former conservative president with family members tied to notorious corruption cases. More than 20 years after the end of a civil war in which more than 75,000 people were killed, choices remain stark in El Salvador. When the left won the presidency in 2009 for the first time in modern Salvadoran history, there were high expectations about change and progressive policies after a generation of conservative rule. But many Salvadorans now express disappointment in a country where international drug trafficking has made great inroads, gangs control entire neighborhoods, and economic growth has plummeted.
Presidential candidates for the 2014 elections in El Salvador started their campaigns and set the tones of their proposals and messages to the population. The race for the citizen vote started with diverse activities organized by the parties, two of them out of the capital city. In San Salvador, Sánchez Cerén y Oscar Ortiz, presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), walked around important avenues of the city, surrounded by thousands of supporters. “We will have a respectful campaign and we ask the other candidates to respect us”, said Vice president Sánchez Cerén.
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.
By 1 p.m. in the afternoon on Sunday, the sun was beating down hard on the polling center in Metapán, a mid-sized town in El Salvador just 15 kilometers south of the Guatemalan border. While there was nothing strange about the scorching sun, these national assembly and municipal elections were the first of their kind. To the surprise of the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), the former rebel group turned political party whose candidate Mauricio Funes won the Presidency in 2009, the right-wing ARENA (National Republican Alliance) gained seats in the national assembly following electoral reforms that the right-wing had pushed through.
A right-wing opposition party on Monday led by a slim margin in El Salvador’s general election in which the leftist government of President Mauricio Funes faced a key test of its popularity. With more than 89 percent of precincts reporting, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) was ahead with slightly over 39.7 percent of the vote. It was closely followed by the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) with 36.8 percent. A conservative coalition named GANA led by ex-president Elias Antonio Saca, a congressional ally of the FMLN, was a distant third with just 9.4 percent of the ballot. Six smaller parties also fielded candidates.
On March 11, El Salvador will hold elections for the country’s legislature and mayors in a test for the former guerrilla-group-turned-governing-party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). In 2009, the FMLN won the presidency with the victory of President Mauricio Funes, as well as 35 of 84 congressional seats. This ended the two-decade-long rule of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) following the civil war from 1980 to 1992. In the last election, the FMLN also won 96 out of 262 municipalities, but lost the vital mayoralty of San Salvador, which ARENA hopes to keep this year. In this election, the FMLN hopes to win at least 43 seats in order to have a congressional supermajority, but faces fractures within the party, as well as discontent among its base. The country’s legislative agenda could be at stake as the FMLN tries to push through reforms—and ARENA hopes to stop them.