Sunday, March 19, 2006

What Salvadoran bloggers are saying -- post-election edition

El Salvador held elections on Sunday, March 12, and almost every Salvadoran blogger has had something to say about the process. The elections saw ARENA make gains in the national legislature while the FMLN held its own. ARENA also made gains in controlling the mayor's office in many cities. But the highest profile race was for mayor of San Salvador, which FMLN candidate Violeta Menjivar won by only 44 votes. Both Menjivar and ARENA candidate Rodrigo Samayoa initially "self-proclaimed" themselves winners, and FMLN demonstrators clashed with police around the hotel where ballots were being scrutinized.

Jjmar at the Hunnapuh blog, as translated on Global Voices, offered post-election analysis. There were positives and negatives for both of the major parties, but on balance ARENA showed itself best able to play the politics of polarization. The FMLN finds itself a minority party in the legislature again, with only the "right of the pig," to scream as it is being lead to the slaughter house. Its power will be limited to attempting to block government requests for borrowing authority.

Author Rafael Menji­var Ochoa, who recently wrote a book on the turbulent years 1979-1981 in El Salvador, reflects in his blog on what the close election in San Salvador means for the FMLN. He finds that this election can only be seen as a bad sign for the FMLN, and this is due mostly to that party's own failings. He points to the fact that Violeta Menjivar was a political protege of Schafik Handal and that in previous elections, the FMLN received its lowest vote totals when it was farthest to the ideological left represented by Handal. The party's expulsion of more moderate members and its insistence on far left orthodoxy weakened its appeal to the populace. He notes that the demonstrations of the FMLN as votes were slowly reviewed in San Salvador were misplaced, since a careful review of votes is necessary in any democratic country where an election is so close.

The blog Salvadorans Around the World treats the election results as a rejection of FMLN proposals to return to the colón and repeal the free trade agreement with the US.

Conservative Pulgarcito at Mi Pais wants to know why FMLN supporters cannot demonstrate peacefully and must burn tires and block traffic. Pulgarcito congratulates the new mayor of San Salvador and will respect her victory, but refuses to admire her.

Soy Salvadoreño abstained from voting, and the protracted process of vote counting did not improve his view of the process. He refuses to congratulate the new mayor of San Salvador for her tiny margin of victory, especially after she tried to downplay the violence of the demonstrations by her supporters.

Blogger aldebarán at Enfrentamientos noted as he went to the polls on election day that the poll watchers from each party would turn hostile and suspicious or friendly and helpful depending on the color of the shirt of an approaching voter.

Oscar Miguel performed a cost-benefit analysis on the political campaign for his blog. He estimated that ARENA had spent $25 million on the legislative assembly race, or a cost of $740,000 for each of the deputies it elected. On the other hand, if the FMLN spent $1 million, then its total cost per deputy was only $31,250 dollars. (Not certain of his source of the campaign spending figures).

The blogger at Zoonpolitikom I calls for reforms in El Salvador's electoral authority, the TSE. Without reform and transparency, there is a fear that the fledgling authentic democracy in El Salvador will lose its legitimacy.

1 comment:

David Holiday said...


Also not sure of Oscar Miguel's figures. However, they are plausible. In 2004, one well-informed source told me he estimated that ARENA had spent $50 million on that presidential contest.