Monday, January 19, 2009

El Salvador's elections

Official results have yet to come in (so the totals I provide may change a bit) but the elections in El Salvador appear to have given the FMLN a few more seats in the legislature (possibly as many as 37, up from 32). The Christian Democratic Party (PDC) also has enough seats to provide a simple majority (43 votes) in conjunction with the FMLN. Any super-majorities would require courting ARENA, which has 34. However, the PDC is not exactly a leftist party, so even if Mauricio Funes (the FMLN candidate) wins in March*, the party will have its work cut out for it.

The FMLN also suffered a sutback because its mayoral incumbent in San Salvador, Violeta Menjívar, lost to ARENA's Norman Quijano. However, the FMLN has not currently accepted defeat in that race, which is very tight.

A November poll had Funes at 44%, versus 31% for ARENA's candidate, Rodrigo Avila. Those numbers were holding pretty steadily. Remember that current president Saca won just over 57% in 2004, amd Flores won about 53% in 1999. We have to go back to 1994--the first post-civil war presidential election--for a president (Armando Calderón Sol) who failed to garner a majority. He received 49%, and won the runoff.

So the likely scenario is that Funes will win a very historic election (i.e. the FMLN finally obtaining the presidency) but with the lowest percentage in the postwar era. He will have to negotiate with other parties (especially the PDC) to get anything passed, while ARENA will do everything it can to block such deals.

See Fruits and Votes for a discussion about why the presidential and legislative elections are in the same year, but different months.

Also, Tim's El Salvador Blog has a really useful list of online resources for Salvadoran politics.

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