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FMLN emerged as the winner of bitter elections
Latinamerica Press
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Electoral authorities confirm the win of the government’s party.

The governing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), beat the extreme-right wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) by only 6,364 votes in the second electoral round on Mar. 9.

The FMLN, whose presidential candidate was Salvador Sánchez Cerén, won the first round on Feb. 2 with 49 percent of the votes, but because it did not win more than 50 percent of the votes, it continued on to the second round to face ARENA, which obtained 39 percent of the votes in the first round and whose candidate was Norman Quijano.

According to official results published by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), on Mar. 13, the FMLN received 50.11 percent of the votes while ARENA finished with 49.89 percent.

Due to the small margin of victory, the President of the TSE, Eugenio Chicas, announced the day following the elections that a new count of the tally sheets would be carried out as established by the Electoral Code that finally confirmed the preliminary results. Pointing to fraud, ARENA had demanded a new vote-by-vote count, which was rejected by the TSE for not following established legal procedures.

In a statement, the Electoral Observations Mission of the Organization of American States, headed by former Bolivian Foreign Minister Gustavo Fernández, invoked “political actors and Salvadorian institutions to preserve civilian peace and wait for the TSE to conclude the procedures established by the law, deliver the definitive results and proclaim the winner of the elections.”

Transfer of votes
The results show that the FMLN received very few more votes than on the first round, while ARENA’s votes increased by 10 percent. These votes appear to have come from the first round supporters of former president Antonio Saca (2004-2009) of the Unity Movement, who received 11.4 percent of the votes in the February elections.

For analyst Rogelio Núñez of the news bulletin Infolatam, the results of the second round reflect “the situation this country is in:  a nation divided in half, polarized between two antagonistic options that base their conflicts and their differences in the civil war of the 80s.”

“Quijano has succeeded to unite again the votes from the right, appealing to the old memories of the civil war [1980-92]. [He] has meanwhile also succeeded in reactivating ARENA’s traditional political machine,” he pointed out. “Quijano has received 440,000 more votes in the second round — Sánchez Cerén [received] 185,000 more votes —, votes that clearly come from the candidacy of Saca, who received 305,000 votes in the first round, and a decrease in the abstention rate which was lower in the second round because the polarization pushed many voters to go to the ballot boxes.”

Núñez also emphasized the need from now on to prioritize accords and agreements “to not lead this Central American nation to a catastrophic tie where both forces block each other by each recruiting 50 percent of the population.”

In that sense, Sánchez Cerén, invited ARENA to “start working together to build a national agenda.”

The new president will be sworn in on Jun. 1 for a five year term. —
Latinamerica Press.


El Salvador: Salvador Sanchez Cerén, elected President (right), celebrates electoral victory with Oscar Ortiz (left), next Vice President . (Photo:
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