El Salvador´s recent election has changed the political landscape in the small Central American country, and turned the tides towards freedom and democracy in the region.
On March 1st, nationwide elections were held in El Salvador to elect 262 Local Governments, 84 Members of Congress and 20 Members of the Central American Parliament. Following national electoral reforms which implemented proportional political representation in city councils, an option where voters could vote across party lines to elect their representatives for congress and, for the first time in history, to elect representatives to the Central American Parliament, Salvadorans took to the polls to defend the young democracy.
ARENA, a party that ruled El Salvador through four consecutive, free, and democratic governments from 1989 to 2009 became the leading opposition party when the FMLN, a former leftist guerilla group-turned political party achieved victory at the polls. Since 2009 the FMLN has occupied the Presidential office with clear signals of reverting the free market programs of the ARENA´s governments. The current FMLN government, whose allies include the Venezuelan regime, has invested through a Venezuelan subsidiary the “ALBA group,” enormous resources to implement a populist agenda. But voters decided to balance the political weight by placing ARENA on top of preferences and results in these past elections.
With a second presidential election lost in 2014, and after a much debated internal party congress which instructed ARENA leadership to implement internal reforms for primaries to select our candidates, fundraising and membership improvements and a new vision for the party: ARENA opened its doors for a wide variety of candidates committed to protecting our freedom and strengthen our democracy.
It is important to highlight the increased participation of young and new ARENA candidates elected through direct vote in this election. In our second largest department, La Libertad, veteran ARENA politicians where voted out in favor of new and fresh ARENA candidates replacing over 80% of the department´s congressional delegation. Former youth leader, and current congressman Roberto d´Aubuisson Munguía was elected Mayor of Santa Tecla, considered by most to be El Salvador´s second capital city and previously an FMLN stronghold. On march 1st, ARENA became the most voted political party in El Salvador with an expected 133 mayorships, 36 members of Congress and 8 members of the Central American Parliament.
The Electoral Tribunal, in charge of validating official results has been slow and inefficient in their task. More than 10 days have gone by since the election and the slow bureaucratic vote counting process is still underway. ARENA´s team has been very aggressive in defending the institutionality of our young democratic system.
If ARENA continues its reform path, we will see better results in our Presidential Election in 2019 and turn away from disastrous legacy of Hugo Chávez and radical left populism in Latin America.
Executive Director of the ARENA Youth
Newly elected Member of Central American Parliament.