The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE in Spanish) officially declared the parties eligible to compete in the national assembly and mayoral elections in March 2006. The parties are:
- ARENA -- National Republican Alliance -- right
- FMLN -- Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front -- left
- CD -- Democratic Change -- center left
- PCN -- National Conciliation Party -- right
- PDC -- Democratic Christian Party -- center
- PNL -- National Liberal Party -- centrist
The news is that the TSE refused to give official recognition to the new Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR) party. The FDR was formed by dissidents from the FMLN who left over splits with the hard-line orthodox leadership of the party. These reformers had hoped to be on the next ballot, but the TSE rejected their petition on technical grounds.
Members of the FDR decried the refusal of the TSE to process the thousands of signatures they had submitted to support their petition for party status. They assert that, despite its name, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is anti-democratic. The TSE is made up of members of existing parties as well as members appointed by El Salvador's supreme court. The FDR claims that such members have an incentive to thwart the formation of a new political party which might shake things up.
Being an officially recognized party, and having votes cast for your candidates has economic repercussions. Political parties in El Salvador receive a stipend for every vote cast. In 2006, the stipend will be $2.17 for votes cast for legislative deputy and $1.62 for votes cast for mayoral candidates. After the 2003 elections, both the FMLN and ARENA received close to $1 million based on their respective electoral success. No other party received half as much.