NPR article on Salvadoran elections

NPR had a story on All Things Considered about the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador. The article gives a brief overview of the FMLN and presidential candidate Mauricio Funes, whom supporters call “El Salvador’s Barack Obama.”

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Corruption has been rampant in El Salvador, and Funes promises to “go after the corrupt government and send them to jail.” Even some ARENA officials are now denouncing the corruption in the government.

Despite Funes’s appeal as a moderate, ARENA is trying to mask Funes’ ideas under the classical image of a leftist FMLN. ARENA is asserting that Funes’ campaign is financed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and that an FMLN victory would bring the government to the far left.

To read the full article, click here

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Organization of American States offers suggestions for the presidential elections

Organization of American States

The electoral observation mission from the Organization of American States (OAS), which observed the Municipal and Legislative elections in El Salvador on January 18, issued recommendations for the upcoming presidential election on March 15 to the Council of the OAS, Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), and Salvadoran society. While the official report on their observations will be released after the presidential election, the OAS has offered several suggestions immediately implementable for the presidential election that will allow for a smoother and more democratic election.

Among the recommendations to the TSE, the government body that oversees elections and institutes election reform, are:

• The better functioning of electoral organizations like the Vote Receiving Board (JRV),

• Assuring ballot secrecy,

• Preventing parties from illegally campaigning in the voting centers, • Opening the polls on time at 7 a.m,

• Releasing polling results in a timely manner.

The electoral observation mission called for the TSE to prevent overcrowding at the polling places, which will allow immediate improvements in the categories stated above. Overcrowding diminishes ballot secrecy, is conducive for intimidation by bosses, and vote buying.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Campaign ad manipulates US official’s message

One of the tactics the ruling party has used and is currently using in its political campaign is the manipulation of messages from US officials to make a leftist win appear to be a potential threat to US-El Salvador relations. In this recent incidence, comments by Dan Restrepo, an adviser to Barack Obama on Latin America, are rearranged to make President Barack Obama appear worried by Venezuelan policies and troubled at the supposed friendship between the leftist party in El Salvador and Hugo Chavez.

However, when placed in context, Restrepo’s remarks instead emphasize the US’s need to respect the “sovereignty of all other countries, and…not get involved in the internal politics.” Restrepo used Venezuela to complement his denouncement of intervening in other countries’ politics. He says that President Obama does not like the anti-American rhetoric Chavez uses, but highlights that the United States is glad to work with any willing country, even if the they have showed open disdain for the United States.

The parsed comments of Dan Restrepo used in the ad:

“The anti-American agenda worries Senator Barack Obama a lot, and the failed polices of Hugo Chavez; be those in Venezuela, or his wish to intervene in countries of the region – be it El Salvador or other places.

It is necessary to look inside what is happening in Venezuela today, the advance of crime in Caracas, food problems.

Barack Obama is worried; obviously he does not like anti-American rhetoric and anti-American policies that Hugo Chavez brings.”

To watch the ad, click here.

His full statement:

“The anti-American agenda worries Senator Barack Obama a lot, and the failed polices of Hugo Chavez; whether they be in Venezuela, or his wish to intervene in countries of the region, be it El Salvador or other places. It is extremely important that the United States and all the other countries in the region respect the sovereignty of all other countries, and do not try to get involved in the internal politics of the countries.

Barack Obama is worried, obviously, he doesn’t like the anti American rhetoric and anti American policies that Hugo Chavez promotes. The problem of the Americas is not the Untied States, the problem is an agenda…it is necessary to look inside what is happening in Venezuela today, the advance of crime in Caracas, food problems. It is not a successful system and the people of the region have to understand this as well.”

To watch the full news video, click here.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

ARENA wins San Salvador

Despite polls indicating incumbent FLMN Violeta Menjívar would win reelection, ARENA rival Norman Quijano won the election and is set to be the new mayor of San Salvador.
San Salvador has been a FMLN stronghold for 12 years.

While the FMLN accepts the results, they denounced the mobilization of Salvadorans from other parts of the country and the buses transporting other Central Americans into the city to vote.

“We are a responsible political force and we are accepting the results of the TSE,” stated Menjívar in a news conference, but she urged the municipality to address the illegitimate mobilization of voters who were not from the capital so that it does not happen in future elections. She called more generally for reform in the electoral system, citing the need for more transparency.

Mauricio Funes, the FMLN candidate for the presidential elections in March, commented on the loss, saying that the people of San Salvador lost faith in Menjívar’s work. Quijano successfully campaigned on a message of change, something difficult for an incumbent to advertise.

See the full article here.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Disruption in San Isidro

The January 18 municipal and legislative elections in San Isidro, Cabañas, were suspended after the political parties PDC, PCN, ARENA, and CD reported fraud and suspected foreign voters.

The election was halted in the morning and postponed until a week later, January 25.  To increase control and avoid further disruptions, the polling place was moved to the Centro Escolar de San Isidro. The National Civil Police deployed 300 officers and set up checkpoints along the road to the polls to ensure there weren’t any violent confrontations between the different parties.

There was a low turnout on the rescheduled day for the election, with only 3,385 of the 6,605 registered voters going to the polls.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Election Results: Legislative Elections

With all but two municipalities reporting, the FMLN has secured the most number of deputy seats in the Legislative Assembly.

Legislative Election Results

Legislative Election Results

The Revolutionary Democratic Front (FDR) did not win enough votes to elect either a deputy or a mayor.

More than 2.2 million people (54%) turned out to vote, a percentage similar to that in the 2006 elections.

To read the full articles, click here or here.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Election Results: Municipal Elections

As of Friday night (January 23), the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced the final results from the January 18 Legislative and Municipal Elections.

259 of the 262 municipal elections have been called. The results stand as such:

Municipal Elections Results

Municipal Elections Results

The new municipalities the FMLN won means it now governs 3 million Salvadorans, roughly half the population.

The three undeclared municipalities are San Agustín (Usultán), San Simón (Morazán), and San Isidro (Cabañas).

The FLMN and ARENA tied in San Agustín, each winning 877 votes on January 18. There will be a runoff election between the two party on February 1.

The TSE investigated the results from four municipalities where the winning margin was small and could be overturned by the contested votes. However, the TSE declared ARENA to win all four municipalities: Olocuilta (La Paz), San Cayetano Istepeque (San Vicente), Concepción Quezaltepeque (Chalatenango), and El Carmen (La Unión).

The mayors will take office on May 1, 2009 and will govern until April 30, 2012.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern