Some post-election analysis

Some themes and analysis from this week's elections.

1.      The resurgence of ARENA.    After their trouncing in the 2009 presidential election and then the defection of 12 GANA deputies, some wondered whether the best days for the right wing ARENA party were in the past.   ARENA's recovery to have the largest number of seats in the National Assembly and to hold the principal cities in 9 of El Salvador's 14 departments shows that the party will continue to play major role in the country for years to come.

2.       The FMLN returns to typical levels in National Assembly.    The 2009 elections were a high water mark for the FMLN with 35 seats in the National Assembly.   Those seats were won with the surge of enthusiasm over the candidacy of Mauricio Funes for president on the FMLN ticket.   With 31 seats after Sunday's elections, the FMLN returns to the levels it has had since 2000:

      Election       FMLN Deputies
  2000                  31
  2003                  31
  2006                  32
  2009                  35
  2012                  31    

So I see these elections less as a rejection of the FMLN and more as the elimination of the "Funes effect" from the 2009 elections.

3.       Independent candidates are a non-event.   It sounds like a great, democratic idea to have independent candidates, but in this election they were nowhere to be found.   Only five candidates ran for  the 84 seats in the National Assembly, and none of them received even 1% of the vote in the department where they were running.   As long as voting for an independent candidate means you cannot vote for anyone else, this is likely to remain the same in the future.

4.       Municipal races are about practical government more than ideology.   In my time in El Salvador, it is clear that municipal governments affect people's daily lives in many ways, and people know who their mayor is and have an opinion about his or her job performance.    Norman Quijano in San Salvador persuaded people that he was getting things done, and was rewarded with re-election.   The same with Oscar Ortiz in Santa Tecla.   On the other hand, in many municipalities in the greater San Salvador area like traditionally red Apopa and Soyapongo, the municipal governments did not seem to be making any improvement in people's lives and security and so the voters decided to change to ARENA.

5.      Low voter turnout.   Voter turnout was less than 50% in the election.  That's slightly lower than the 2006 and 2009 legislative elections and much lower than the 62% in the 2009 presidential election.

Some of the more interesting speculation is about the 2014 presidential election.   I'll turn to that in a future post.


Anonymous said…
Those are interesting points Tim. About municipal government being more about practical issues than ideology. That has a validity. Places like Suchitoto have 18 years of FMLN governance and are better places to live and the residents believe that. Soyapongo and Mejicanos were governed by the FMLN for 15 years. They face big challenges (crime and violence, pollution, dealing with the economic crisis, and until 2009 having to deal with the ARENA central government), perhaps the voters here were practical and wanted change faster and especially and crime and violence.

If you look at the vote totals in Soyapongo and Mejicanos the FMLN lost by about 300 and 500 votes. I have not yet heard causes of reported fraud. In both municipalities if the FMLN had gone in in coalition with the centerist party the CD, which they did this year in Santa Ana and in past elections in other municipalities they would have won this year. Why didn't the FMLN consider that this year?