Final Big Rallies a Week Before Elections

Between 180,000 and 250,000 people attended the FMLN’s final rally in San Salvador on Saturday, 8 days before the presidential elections. The former candidates of the National Conciliation Party, who have broken with their party, were in attendance. Speakers talked of promoting political unity, furthering the promises of the 1992 Peace Accords, and inaugurating a new era in the nation’s history. Vice-presidential candidate, Salvador Sanchez-Cerén urged supporters to get to the polls and to vote early.  Presidential candidate Mauricio Funes called on party members to avoid violent confrontations with ARENA supporters in the final days before the election, and urged them to be on the look out for electoral fraud on March 15.

The ARENA party held their final large rally the following day, with 75,000 supporters. It was attended by former presidents Alfredo Cristiani, Armando Calderon Sol, and Francisco Flores; current president Tony Saca; and the Secretary Generals of both the National Conciliation Party (PCN), the Cristian Democratic Party (PDC), and the Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR). Speakers at the rally also issued calls for reconciliation and unity. Vice-presidential candidate, Arturo Zablah, described ARENA as ‘defending liberties, generating employment, and believing in God.’ He contrasted this with the economic problems and lack of freedoms of Venezuela, implicitly connecting the opposition party with these policies. In his speech, presidential candidate Rodrigo Avila recognized the progress made by the ARENA governments in the last 20 years, but also acknowledged that significant challenges remained.

According to El Salvador’s electoral code, no political campaigning can occur on election day or the three days prior. The candidates will be making final tours around the country in the days that remain before the formal closure of the campaign period.

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