Salvadoran Elections: Vote Early and Vote Often

To the surprise of me and many others, the FMLN lost votes, seats and mayoralties in last night’s election. The absolute final tallies are not in yet but it’s a fact that they lost at least 2 percent of their previous total vote, 3 deputies and at least 3 major mayoralties that they had held since the late 90’s and failed by a wide margin from retaking the capital, San Salvador.

Regarding my personal view of the proceedings, it appears that the bogus ARENA raffle for the cows in San Rafael Cedros (see 2nd to last post) may have tipped the balance there, as the FMLN lost the mayoralty by less then a 100 votes. And in San Jose Villanueva the FMLN lost the mayoralty and only just barely held on to their 3 department deputies to the Legislature.

There was a definite loss of support for the FMLN across the country, but election fraud did play a part in the loss, as in one case a fellow was caught with over 200 illegal voter identification cards. I personally spotted an apparent case of fraud, with a voter holding multiple voter identification cards behind her back while waiting to vote. I took a photo of her but was not able to do anything about it before she had voted and disappeared into the crowds. As observers we have very strict rules to follow as to how to report problems and who to report them to, which unfortunately let her escape. Below I’ve include the photo of her extra cards in a transparent bag and even through the plastic, the cards look very similar.

FMLN officials held a discussion this morning with all their international observers to brief us on the situation and to get our input. The general view seemed to be that although the FMLN had improved the lives of the poor, with health care improvements, free education, school uniforms and shoes, school lunches and some basic economic improvements, the middle class has not seen any improvement and voted accordingly. When that is combined with the 100 percent hostile main media, which blames the FMLN for the local impacts from the world-wide financial crash, the FMLN was just not able to get their word out to the masses.

We heard a lot of self-criticism by the FMLN at this morning’s meeting and pledges to go back to their grassroots to chart the new path and prepare for the 2014 presidential elections. The most postive thing I saw was the strong support of young people for the FMLN, which bodes well for it’s future.

Below are a few photos from election night in Villanueva.







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