Saturday, December 22, 2007

Zablah drops from presidential race

The presidential race in El Salvador has lost a potential candidate in the center. Arturo Zablah sought to create a center-left alliance as an alternative to ARENA and the FMLN. However the small political parties of the center (FDR, CD and PDC) could never reach agreement on whether to form an alliance, and Zablah has now withdrawn his name from consideration. I would speculate that this probably helps Mauricio Funes more than it helps the eventual ARENA candidate. A Zablah candidacy in the center had a greater potential to lure away potential FMLN supporters than it did to lure away voters for ARENA.

6 comments:

Polycarpio said...

Zablah, a former official in the Calderon Sol (ARENA) administration, would have had some allure for the right also, especially given the absence of an early favorite in the ARENA field of candidates. Tellingly, Pres. Saca has appeared to extend an olive branch out to the retiring Zablah. Ultimately, your instinct is probably right because Zablah might have become the natural attractor of people who wanted a change, but were not ready to go with the FMLN party.

Zablah's candidacy has reminded me of the abortive, faltering candidacy of Hector Silva in the last go-around. In both instances, tarrying and delay in the center caused the momentum to fizzle and the prospects of a centrist political force to succumb to the law of inertia. If the center is going to ever mobilize with a lot more decisiveness than has heretofore been shown. It's almost as though the center, by its very nature an ambivalent position, unwilling to commit to the prevailing currents, tends to freeze in the headlights and shut down before its moment in the spotlight. How many times will it have to choke before it realizes it needs to overcome its stage shyness -- that's a very interesting question to me.

Solavá said...

I never thought that a "third way" was possible in El Salvador, mainly because there is hardly anyone left in the political center. The only party at the center of the political spectrum is CD (Democratic Change) and its two congressmen tend to disagree on campaign issues, one of them (Kattán) is forcefully leaning towards the FMLN. The FDR is just as leftist as the FMLN, the difference is that they are more pragmatic. They are not social democrats, they are more liberal. The PDC (the Christian Democratic Party) is definitely not in the center. In fact, they are the party that has promoted, for purely ideological reasons, anti-gay and anti-abortion measures, the kind of policies that Americans would label without question as "extreme right". In other words, the traditional party of the right, Arena, is closer to the center now, today, than people would have us believe. I'm not arguing for or against this party, I'm just stating that this is in fact what's happening. That is Arena's strategy: their pro-consumer policies, their anti-poverty programs and their new "Alliance for the Family" are designed to bring them closer to the political center. And now that the FMLN's candidate Mauricio Funes is talking about maintaining the dollarization of the economy and the consolidation of the Free Trade Agreement with the US, and now that FMLN mayors are asking for the continuation of the anti-poverty program Red Solidaria, the left is in a strange position. They need a clear sense of identity other than their historic identity. Voters need to understand what the FMLN intends to do, and how they would do it. So far, the Left's main attraction has been an external candidate with a familiar pedigree. But if they want to win the election, they need to redefine their identity not in terms of where they come from but in term of what they could achieve if they were given the presidency.

Polycarpio said...

It's a provocative and thoughtful posting, Solavá said. The only thing I would take issue with is the characterization of the "values" agenda as "extreme right." Even in the U.S., a recent LATIMES poll found a majority of respondents ascribing to some sort of Pro-Life view, in varying degrees, with equal shadings on the Gay rights issues.

I think there is a certainly a great polarization in El Salvador. But this only means that, like oil and water, people have separated into two very mutually exclusive camps. This creates a false notion of extremism: the two sides are always accusing a "far" opposite fringe (ARENA sees Leftist extremism, the FMLN sees rightwing extremism, etc.) that does not really exist. Yes, there are fringe elements to both parties, but, as your post rightfully acknowledges, Saca is a fairly moderate politician. The polarization prevents him from acknowledging his party's mistakes of the past, even the abhorrent human rights abuses with which the founder is linked. Although the FMLN has been more intransigent (or, faithful to its values, depending on how you view things), Funes is looking like a pragmatist. I think accusations of the PDC having gone fascist are hyperbolized. I see its recent refusal to enter into alliances with ARENA or the FMLN and to accept a pact with the war veterans group (the Salvadoran Patriotic Brotherhood) as a further sign that a party which has remained out in the wilderness though the past elections, is still searching for an authentic voice that is its own voice.

[In fairness, I should confess my pro-Pescadito affinities.]

El-Visitador said...

Polycarpio, I must agree with Solavá.

This year's PDC's protagonism in forbidding freedom of religion in El Salvador is pure totalitarism.

Once again, they prove their nickname "sandía" fits the hand: green outside, red inside.


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«Arena, is closer to the center now»

Nice way of saying the Saca administration is a pathetic mix of statist and populist policies.


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Good riddance to Zablah. Most of his policy proposals stank of monetarism, statism, socialism, and populism.

If we wanted another president pursuing failed ideas from the 1970's, we could just ask Chávez to come by and take over! At least he is popular!


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However, I must give credit to Zablah. He at least did bother to put forward a serious policy agenda. An agenda full of failed ideas from the past, to be sure, but at least it showed he is a serious person. Unlike a clown such as Saca, for instance.

Polycarpio said...

Needless to say, I take issue with the "sandia" monicker, and I also think it's distasteful to say the least, as a painful throwback to days when intimidation could take the form of a demagogue making veiled threats to peoples' lives by hacking a watermelon on television to send a not so subtle signal to what he would like to do to those he accused of being "red" inside. Let's just get past the name-calling for 2008, now.

Merry Christmas to all, and TO ALL, a good night...

Anonymous said...

You guys all know from past elections experience (if you guys paid attention)that the -- will fund through ARENA other puppet parties to split up the vote barely causing ARENA to WIN.

The media cannot consolidate only to 2 as in Democrat/ Republican up here. If they did that in El Salvador- You all know who would win if there were truly democratic elections held. *)

Re: what Solava says, "anti-gay and anti-abortion measures, the kind of policies that Americans would label without question as "extreme right".
-I am "North" American and would consider CD not "Extreme right" as ARENA, ARENA is about as far right one can go in El Salvador without touching Fascism. (although some elements may be). After the war, FMLN definitely has moved more center, imho they were never far left like Sendero Luminoso. They were not maoists. Whatever happened to Villalobos and the PD? Ana Guadalupe Martinez?