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.