Elections 2009

Polls are Closed!

Observers throughout the country are reporting massive participation in the elections. By 4pm, with an hour until the polls close, a source in Soyapango stated that they had observed a participation of 60%.

Early exit polling has shown Funes up by a significant margin. However, these results are preliminary, and carry a large margin of error. A representative of FESPAD stated that by their estimates the winning candidate needs a margin of victory of at least 90,000 votes to be confident that the outcome was not influenced by fraud.


In addition to the power outage in Apopa for most of the day, electricity went out at 3 voting centers in Soyapango at 4pm. Because the results must be transmitted digitally, these outages have worrisome implications for the processing and announcement of the final results. Any delays to the announcement of victory will likely heighten tensions.

FESPAD (the Foundation for the Application of Law) stated that they are receiving a fewer total number of complaints of logistical problems with the electoral process than in January. However, a representative from FESPAD said that the complaints they are receiving are more serious than in January.

The majority of irregularities reported to FESPAD fall into three categories:

1) Influencing voters with t-shirts, inappropriate campaigning, food, or money

2) Obstruction of voting; for example, a business reportedly did not let its workers vote

3) Large concentrations of people (suspicious), ARENA is claiming that they are people working in ‘logistica’

Thankfully, there are very few reports of violence, and only 3-4 cases of people attempting vote twice.

Now that the polls are closed, all attention turns to counting the votes and reporting them to the TSE center.  Voices staff will be at the TSE center for the rest of the evening, monitoring the process. We will continue to monitor the power outages and report any results as they come in. 

Elections 2009

EU Election Observer Statement

With only a few more hours until the polls close, Luis Barrionuevo, the head of the EU election observation delegation, stated that there have been fewer irregularities in today’s presidential elections than during the local and legislative elections held on January 18, 2009.  The incidences, he states, have been few and isolated.

Despite the positive report, rumors of foreigners trying to vote persist, and police report that several Guatemalans and Nicaraguans have attempted to cast ballots today. Earlier, representatives from the Organization of American States confirmed that they have received complaints of foreigners trying to vote in the eastern region of El Salvador, including Torola in Morazan, and the communities of Cayetuno and Tepitan in San Vicente.

Voices staff is investigating these allegations and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Elections 2009

International Observers and Transparency

Today, the Prensa Grafica reported that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has accredited approximately 5,000 national and international election observers for tomorrow’s elections.

Magistrate Walter Araujo, President of the TSE, was quoted as saying “[The observers] will be neutral witnesses and they will guarantee transparency in the electoral process that will occur tomorrow, and that’s the principal function of the observers that will participate in the presidential elections.”

Some political analysts have expressed reservations about this emphasis on election observers. They certainly recognize the valuable contribution that observers make to transparency, but they worry that the TSE has over-emphasized electoral observation and that it has become the basis for transparency.

El Salvador’s electoral code and institutions fall well short of fulfilling international best practices for free and fair elections. Some analysts wonder if the legitimacy lent by international observer missions may obscure the fundamental inadequacies with the nation’s electoral system, and reduce the pressure to address these shortcomings.

Elections 2009

TSE’s 10 steps to an orderly Election Day

Yesterday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced 10 steps it is taking to ensure an orderly election day for all. TSE officials have discussed many of these steps over the past months, but decided on some of them at the last minute. (Click here to read more)

Elections 2009

An Historic Election, No Matter the Outcome

For most of the campaign season, the FMLN’s Mauricio Funes has enjoyed a large lead in the polls, and if he were to win, it would be the first time in El Salvador’s history that a leftist candidate would be elected president. This has inspired numerous stories in the media calling these elections an historic opportunity for the left.

But Juan José Martel, the campaign manager for the Democratic Change Party and member of the Supervisory Committee of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, views these elections as historic regardless of which candidate wins the presidency because this election has the potential to cause a profound shift in the nation’s entire political culture. Click here for the rest of the article.

Elections 2009

Mob, I mean, Electoral Violence 2009

There were at least three violent confrontations between political militants yesterday; the last day of legal campaigning for the March 15th elections.

In San Fransisco Gotera, Morazan ARENA members stoned and wounded five FMLN activists, before the ARENA van was driven into a telephone pole in a hasty escape attempt.  A FMLN truck later assisted in removing the vehicle from the road.

Around noon, 17 ARENA militants confronted a FMLN rally on Blvd. Constitution in San Salvador.  According to Voices’s interviews with witnesses, an ARENA van approached the crowd and shot a gun into the air.  The FMLN participants then chased the vehicle and ARENA supporters down a nearby street.  Five ARENA members and two FMLN participants were wounded in the resulting stone and stick violence.  La Prensa Grafica reported the FMLN militants shot the ARENA van at the end of the confrontation, but the police officers on the scene interviewed by Voices claimed the gun shots occurred well before they could arrive (half-way through the disturbances).  dsc_0382

At 9:30 pm in San Jacinto, just outside of San Salvador, two FMLN members were struck and wounded with sticks by several people driving by in an ARENA vehicle.

Elections 2009

Funes Financial Scandal Politcally Motivated?

On Monday, the Attorney General’s Office announced that it had opened an investigation into the $2.29 million deposited into Mauricio Funes’ private bank account between January 1 and March 6 of 2009, a period during which Funes reported a monthly income of $5,000.

Attorney General Félix Garrid Safie stated that they would attempt to investigate the source of this money, and whether it came from in-country or abroad and legal or illegal sources. Safie also assured that this is a routine investigation and does not constitute any accusation against him, although this is not exactly how it has been treated in the major newspapers. (Click here for full article)

Elections 2009

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.

Elections 2009

Electoral Violence in 2009

According to the National Civilian Police (PNC) there were 115 reported incidents of election-related violence during the first two months of 2009. Of those, 65 occurred since January 19, the date of the local and legislative elections. (Click here for article)

Confrontations between party activists have ranged from damage of private property to pushing and fist fights, and even the exchange of gun shots. With 9 days left until the presidential elections, it’s expected that the frequency and severity of confrontations between ARENA and FMLN supporters will increase.

In response, a number of political and religious leaders have issued condemnations of the violence.

On Monday, Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas called on both political parties to exercise greater control over their bases, and to end the partisan violence. He also urged both parties to let the voters decide and be willing to accept defeat in a peaceable manner on Election Day. (Click here for article)

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), along with the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Attorney General, and the Director of the National Civilian Police held a meeting on Tuesday with leaders from both the FMLN and ARENA in which both parties verbally agreed to prevent partisan violence in the run up to the elections. In statements after the meetings, FMLN and ARENA leaders asserted that their respective supporters have always been nonviolent and will continue to be, and that the other party’s militants have been the provocateurs. (Click here for article)

Looking to Election Day

The PNC announced that it has identified 10 groups of political activists that could potentially provoke violence on elections day, and they will continue to monitor these groups. The PNC said that the groups were from both parties.

In an effort to bolster security, 18,406 police agents will be deployed, plus 571 police in training. Of these, 8,000 officers will be posted at the 461 voting centers, and the remainder will be patrolling or ready to be deployed where necessary. (Click here for article)