A Shift Towards the Center?

Feb 7, 2009

A recent poll published in La Prensa Grafica, a national newspaper, asked with which party voters most closely identified. The ARENA and FMLN parties were nearly tied for support, with roughly a third of respondents identifying with each. In a country known for its partisanship and polarization, a whopping 21.9% of respondents said that they don’t identify with any party. It should be noted that this category includes both respondents who are disillusioned with the political system to the point of non-participation as well as respondents who aren’t committed to a single party.

Another study published in La Prensa Grafica asked party members to place themselves on a political spectrum from extreme left to extreme right. The study found, unsurprisingly, that among ARENA supporters a third identified themselves as being on the right or the extreme right, and a third of FMLN supporters said they were on the left or extreme left. What was surprising was the finding that within all parties, the largest group described themselves as being moderate or centrist. Within the FMLN, 44.6% of respondents categorized themselves as center, center-left, or moderate-left, while 39.1% of ARENA respondents said they were center, center-right, or moderate-right. The magnitude of the shift towards center may be exaggerated by the self-reporting in the study (many people may not wish to think of or identify themselves as extreme) however, the trend may still be indicative of a broader shift among the population.

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