TSE tells presidential candidates to stop campaigning and is ignored

Within a week after the March 4 elections in El Salvador, the digital billboards in San Salvador had changed their ads.   Carlos Calleja and Javier Simán were spreading the message of their respective candidacies to be the nominee of ARENA for president in the 2019 elections.   In the days which followed, their messages would appear on billboards throughout the country in the run up to the internal ARENA elections  on April 22 in which ARENA party members will choose their candidate.

Also on the campaign trail, Nayib Bukele held a major campaign rally in Chalatenango on March 10, where he urged supporters to register to sign papers for the formation of his new political party, and laid out what his plans were for the northern part of the country. 

Only candidates from the FMLN have been quiet in public, as the left wing party licks its wounds after its recent electoral defeat and tries to decide on the best path forward into the presidential elections.

But apparently the Supreme Electoral Tribunal ("TSE" for its initials in Spanish) wants all this activity to stop for the next six months.  One week ago, the TSE issued a statement telling all the politicians in the country to stop campaigning for president in 2019, citing Article 81 of the Constitution of El Salvador.   The TSE told the media that they should not be airing advertisements for the parties or their candidates. 

Under Article 81, presidential campaign are not supposed to commence until four months prior to the date established for the election, which will be February 3, 2019.

Despite the warning from the TSE, there does not appear to be any change in politics in El Salvador.   The ARENA candidates held another televised debate this week.   Bukele is working on getting his party recognized.   The FMLN is huddling to decide on a candidate.

It does seem a little ridiculous to require the political parties to hold early elections to choose their candidates while at the same time prohibiting anyone from campaigning in those elections.