The Effect of the Economy on the Elections

Although it’s unclear whether Rodrigo Avila (ARENA) or Mauricio Funes (FMLN) will win the March 15 presidential elections, it is widely held that this year represents the best chance so far of an FMLN candidate winning greater support than an ARENA candidate. Analysts attribute this shift towards Funes largely to the poor state of the economy in El Salvador.

In an interview with Voices, Professor Lilian Vega, economist at the Central-American University, asserted that the effects of the ARENA’s neoliberal economic policies have created stagnant or precarious economic circumstances for the majority of Salvadorans, and many are beginning to question the status quo.

Professor Vega also pointed out that while some segments of the economy have indeed benefited from the ARENA’s policies, several major sectorsthat have traditionally supported the political right, such as industry and construction, have suffered under the neoliberal agenda. This, according to Vega, has lead many from these sectors, who would never identify with a revolutionary leftist agenda, to move away from ARENA’s Rodrigo Avila and to support Mauricio Funes, a moderate leftist.

In a separate interview, Dagoberto Gutierrez, political analyst at the Lutheran University, pointed out that some voters may react to the uncertain economy by voting for ARENA, a known party, rather than voting for the FMLN which is untested as a ruling party.

We’ll find out how the economy will affect voters in two weeks.

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