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.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes says his Central American country will allow citizens living abroad to vote in the 2014 presidential election.
Funes says a government commission is looking into the necessary steps to implement absentee voting. He says the commission is getting advice from nations that already permit citizens out of the country to cast ballots.