Rodrigo Ávila's grand crusade
Some 50,000 ARENA supporters, dressed in the tri-color red, white and blue of their party, converged on Cuscatlan Stadium in San Salvador on Sunday. Billed as the "Grand Crusade for San Salvador," ARENA wanted to show that it could turn out crowds for its presidential candidate Rodrigo Ávila as large as those following Mauricio Funes. (El Faro raised doubts about Sunday's crowd when it reported that many government ministries conveyed the "suggestion" to their employees that they should turn out for the ARENA rally).
One of the biggest questions about Rodrigo Ávila's campaign is who will be his vice-presidential running-mate. Current predictions are that it will be Arturo Zablah, the businessman, ex-minister of the economy, who tried to run for El Salvador's presidency as a candidate in the center earlier this year but was unable to pull together a coalition. Negotiations between Zablah and Avila are reportedly in progress, with Zablah asking for certain conditions including a significant role in economic policy, before he lends his credibility to the ARENA cause. The prospect of Zablah as Avila's running mate shows that ARENA is trying to move its image towards the center as it tries to decrease the FMLN's lead in the polls.