Post-election politics

El Salvador's two sets of elections in January and March of this year proceed to a new legislature which commenced on Friday, May 1, and the inauguration of Mauricio Funes as president on June 1. El Salvador will be faced with divided government as political events last week illustrated.

Former president Alfredo Cristiani was named the new leader of ARENA. The party will look to the wealthy businessman and politician to restore its fortunes after its presidential election loss to Mauricio Funes and the FMLN. Cristiani was president of El Salvador from 1989-1994, and signed the 1992 Peace Accords which ended the civil war. Currently a court in Spain is considering the possibility that Cristiani should be tried for crimes against humanity arising out of the November 1989 murder of the Jesuits and his role in covering it up.

One of Cristiani's first acts as ARENA's new head was to throw the party's support behind the election of Ciro Cruz Zepeda, from the right-wing PCN party, to be the new president of the legislative National Assembly. The ascendancy of Zepeda reflects the fact that the PCN's 11 deputies make it the swing voting block in the National Assembly. Along with ARENA's 32 seats, the two right-wing allies continue to have control of the 84 seat legislature for the new term which began on May 1.

In a discourse to a May 1 rally, Mauricio Funes said electing Cruz Zepeda was a bad message, a message rejecting the will of the people. Apparently taking these words to heart, about 300 demonstrators stormed the National Assembly and took control of the legislative chambers for approximately 90 minutes. The takeover ended peacefully.


Grotius said…
Maybe I'm missing something here... but if ARENA and the PCN control a majority of the assembly, then how can their naming of the assembly president be considered going against the will of the people? Just because Funes was elected president doesn't mean the FMLN should determine what happens in the national assembly.
Anonymous said…
Exactly Grotius.
It looks like the FMLN doesn't think that the Executive power is enough and would like control of the Legislative power aswell.

It is a shame that people think that they can take over the national assembly, even "peacefully" and for "only" 90 minutes. If they want to peacefully protest, which in my experience the 'peaceful' part is a bad joke, they should do it outside the assembly and never prevent work from being done. 300 people prevented the legislators from working for the salvadoran people.
Anonymous said…
Well,the real question in El Salvador is that the right wing parties, specially Arena, is not used to be in the opposition. Now they are facing a reality that they never thought was possible. They are going to use that majority to stop important social and political changes in El Salvador. They will try to keep the stutus quo to any cost. That means my friends that they don't care about they daily live in poverty of our people. They will use that majority to keep us in poverty in ignorance. Electing Ciro Zepeda as president of the National Assambly is the first message of the traditional powers to the Salvadorean people that they are not ready to make any signficant changes in the traditional political arena of El Salvador.
George Fulmore said…
As an occasional visitor to and general outside dopester of El Salvador, I agree with the last comment. As in the U.S., it's all about whether government is there to keep the status quo in place or there to bring people together, striving to provide more equality in opportunities and outcomes. The Salvadoran upper class wants to keep its power and low taxes in place at any cost. The middle class stives to keep ahead of the lower class, while it keeps its maids and beach houses as long as it can. The country is primed for sueccess and progress if the various groups and parties can work together and share common goals. Patient, well-balanced political leadership can lead the country to achieve those goals.