There is still no official result for may or of San Salvador. Depending on which news source you read, Violeta Menjivar is leading by approximately 60 votes, but 80-100 votes are being challenged and still being reviewed.
The very close race in San Salvador has convinced the FMLN supporters in the streets that ARENA is trying to steal the election through fraud, particularly since the population has a low opinion of the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal) which oversees the elections and the vote counting. This belief will increase the bitterness towards ARENA felt by FMLN supporters in the capital. The longer the vote tabulation takes, the greater will be the suspicions that ARENA is manipulating the system.
In San Salvador, the candidacy of Carlos Rivas Zamora clearly siphoned off enough FMLN votes to potentially give the election for mayor to ARENA. If the FMLN did not insist on its rigid party orthodoxy and was sufficiently inclusive for Carlos Rivas Zamora to stay in the party and be its candidate for mayor or if the party had formed a coalition with one or more of the minor center-left parties, it is likely the FMLN would have had an easier time staying in control of San Salvador.
Both ARENA and the FMLN made gains in the election in the number of deputies they have in the National Assembly. The losers in the legislative elections were the minor parties. The FMLN increased its total from 29 to 32. (The FMLN won 31 seats in 2003, but 2 deputies left the party during 2005). ARENA increased its total number of deputies from 27 to 34. Thus ARENA improved its position, but not as much as Tony Saca hoped, and almost all of its gains were at the expense of its traditional ally, the PCN, which lost 6 seats in the assembly. The FMLN barely regained the ability to block measures which required a super-majority vote, such as government borrowing, which it had lost when two deputies defected from the party in 2005.
The following chart from La Prensa Grafica does a good job showing the change of party fortunes in the National Assembly:
Where the FMLN saw significant losses was in control of mayor's offices. ARENA made significant gains throughout the country, including winning control of traditional FMLN strongholds such as Chalatenango and Tonacatapeque. Part of ARENA's success on a national level is no doubt related to the popularity of Tony Saca. His approval ratings are very high in the country, and Saca campaigned ceaselessly and unapologetically for ARENA candidates from one end of the country to another. The implied message that towns controlled by ARENA mayors get better treatment from the national government may have helped ARENA candidates.
Turnout for the elections was reported at 50%, up significantly from the 37% turnout in the last municipal/legislative elections.
These elections again highlight the intense polarization of politics in El Salvador. The harsh rhetoric of the parties and the almost 50-50 split of votes between the two major parties in the total votes cast for deputies in the national assembly does not bode well for having a functioning government where the politicians try to work together for the greater good of the country.
The results for some of the mayoral races I have mentioned in the past:
- In San Francisco Menendez, the former "coyote" human smuggler Narciso Chicho Ramirez, won the race for mayor in that district.
- In Intipuca, the incumbent ARENA mayor defeated Hugo Salinas, the Virginia resident who returned to his hometown and campaigned in English.
- In Nejapa, popular mayor Rene Canjura had defected from the FMLN and ran under a minor partycoalitionn banner. He was victorious.