Mauricio Funes Wins Elections in El Salvador

funes-3

Mauricio Funes will be the next president of El Salvador!

From Voices from El Salvador:

FMLN communications chief Sigfredo Reyes has announced that with a little over 50% of the vote in, the FMLN leads 52% to 48%. Analyzing their exit polls and these results, they are essentially calling it a victory. They are inviting everyone in El Salvador to the Redondell de Masferrer for a victory celebration. The Candidate will be there, and will be making the announcement.

Congratulations FMLN and Mauricio Funes for this historic moment!

He will be the first leftist head of state in the nation’s nearly two-hundred year history and the first since the end of the civil war to come from the former-guerrilla outfit the FMLN.

The people have spoken. My usual analysis will be up in due course. Raise your glasses tonight, it is a good night for Salvadorans. It is a good night!

10:46 pm

Or is it?

Officially, with 73 percent of the votes: 51.6% FMLN and 48.4% ARENA. But the TSE still will not declare a winner. With information on the ground, I stand by the above statement of Funes’ victory. Frankly, if this turns out differently, shit is going to explode. The people want this and, not declaring it now, is delaying the inevitable.

11:01 pm

According to Tim at Tim’s El Salvador Blog:

All indications tonight are that Mauricio Funes, the former television journalist, achieved victory today in the presidential elections in El Salvador. Very early on, the election returns being reported by the media showed that the candidate of the leftist FMLN had garnered support throughout the country sending red clad FMLN supporters into the streets to celebrate and sending the conservative ARENA party to defeat for the first time in two decades. By 8:45pm El Salvador time, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal had released results showing Funes with 51.6% of the vote and Avila with 48.4%. This reflected a tally of 73% of the votes.

Funes will assume the presidency of a country with many problems. Among those problems are high levels of crime and violence and an economy that does not provide jobs sufficient to support a large percentage of Salvadoran families. He will have a divided government — the FMLN will have a plurality in the National Assembly, with conservative ARENA and PCN having a potential majority coalition.

The country is highly polarized as a result of an election campaign which featured nonstop negative campaigning by ARENA.

11: 14 pm

Funes is now thanking Salvadorans for their vote and overcoming their fear. I hope to get a transcript of this speech when available. We have a long night ahead. More to come.

11:23 pm

“This is the happiest night of my life”

“I salute my opponents with respect and I express my willingness to exchange ideas to strengthen democracy.”

“My government has a commitment to defend the conclusion … the regime of freedom”

“Now the Arena party goes into opposition and will be respected and heard”

7:21 am (3/16/09)
It is official. More to come when I return from class.

New York Times: Leftist Party Wins in El Salvador
Reuters: El Salvador ex-rebels win power through ballot box
Los Angeles Times: El Salvador Elects First Leftist President
Washington Post: Leftist Declare Victory in El Salvador
NPR: Ex-guerrillas Win in El Salvador
New Statesmen: Left Wins in El Salvador
ABC News: Conservative concedes Salvadoran presidency

3:06 pm

Click here for Democracy Now!s coverage of the elections

Click here for Democracy Now!'s coverage of the elections

6:53 pm

Elections Re-cap
(Voices from El Salvador)

Final Results

According to the preliminary results from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), with 99.4% of the results processed the president-elect Mauricio Funes (FMLN) has 51.3% and Rodrigo Avila (ARENA) 48.7% of the vote.

Mauricio Funes made his victory speech just after 9pm from the Sheraton Hotel on Sunday night. In his speech he promised to respect the constitution, build a government of national unity, and work with large, medium and small business owners to strengthen what he called the most dynamic economy in Central America. He also declared that his government would work for a “preferential option for the poor.”

Two hours later, Rodrigo Avila conceded defeat, and promised that ARENA would be a constructive opposition.

Celebrations

Their was an air of celebration from FMLN supporters as soon as the polls closed. When the FMLN announced Funes’ victory, many thousands of FMLN supporters converged in a sea of red at a monument in San Salvador, cheering, shouting, and dancing late into the night.
Electoral Process

In a press conference Sunday night, Walter Araujo, President of the TSE, began by thanking and congratulating the people of El Salvador for their participation in Sunday’s elections, and applauded the political parties for the maturity they showed during the peaceful election process.

Observers and NGOs reported some election irregularities, but that these were largely minor in nature. Observer missions from the EU and OAS were impressed by the improvements made by the TSE in the logistical organization of these elections as compared to the elections in January.

Araujo stated that the success of this electoral process is an indication of how far democracy has come in El Salvador. In reference to the implementation of the election process the he called transparent, open, and democratic, Aruajo declared “El Salvador has won, Latin America has won, and the world has won.”

The Road Ahead

While this certainly is an historic victory for the FMLN in El Salvador, Funes will face tremendous challenges.

– Funes’ margin of victory was only 2.6%. Furthermore, the intense and often defamatory campaigning has exacerbated the political polarization in the country. Inspiring public trust in his administration and lessening political divisions will be one of his greatest challenges.

– Right-wing alliances hold a simple majority in the Legislative Assembly, but neither the right nor the left hold the two-thirds majority necessary for political appointments and incurring new debt. Working with other political parties will be difficult after such a difficult campaign season, but is absolutely essential for the FMLN and a Funes’ administration.

– Weak rule of law has plagued El Salvador for years and is rooted in the legal framework and judicial institutions. None of these will be easily or quickly changed.

– El Salvador’s economy has long been stagnant, and is characterized by staggering inequality. Facing a global economic crisis, finding ways to keep El Salvador’s economy from a severe downturn and distribute wealth more equitably seem overwhelming challenges.

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~ by Daniel on March 16, 2009.

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