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Saturday, February 15, 2014

We Are Approaching an Historic Moment

Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SALSOL Observer

Donald Lee Suchitoto, El Salvador 7 february 2014

english edition – february.2014

SALSOL Observer
english edition – february.2014

The Numbers

Some say it is not impossible that ARENA could find the strength to recover from the defeat which it suffered on February 2, put it is very unlikely. At the national level, the tri-color party finished 10 points behind the FMLN which fell short by just one percentage point of the threshold for a definitive victory – 50 percent plus one vote. The rejection of Norman Quijano and what he represents is expressed at other levels and in other dimensions. Of the 14 departments in the nation’s territory, ARENA lost 13. Of the 262 municipalities, the party accustomed to power won only 74. 

In the moment, the analysts and spokespersons for the defeated party preferred to blame abstentions, but in fact, it was the UNIDAD coalition and its candidate Antonio Saca that weakened the ARENA vote.  Although it is true that the percentage of electors that exercised their right fell by comparison with the results of the presidential round of the year 2009, the drop results from the good work of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the National Register of Natural Persons, by which they registered 728,628 more eligible votes than for the elections of the year 2009.

Looking directly at the numbers and not the percentages, the total of valid votes in this first round of 2014 was 29,684 more than the total of valid votes for the second round of 2009. In 2014, more participated, not less. The phenomenon of abstentions is a ghost invented by the ARENA leadership who prefer not to recognize reality. The votes by which ARENA fell short went to Tony Saca. In this most recent vote, Saca and his UNIDAD of three parties won 305,294. ARENA lost 245,313 compared to its result in the second round of 2009.  

The numbers do not rule out that a fraction of the weakness of ARENA is owed to abstentions. This tendency – of ARENA supporters that cannot stomach supporting their own party – is alive, and even has its expression in the United for El Salvador caucus which holds five seats in the Legislative Assembly. But it is clear that abstentions were not the principal cause for ARENA’s defeat.

We can also observe that the candidates of the FMLN were affected by the combo of UNIDAD and abstentions, but not in the same measure. Of the 1,354,000 votes won with Mauricio Funes in 2009, 48,538 are missing from the total of votes in their favor in the first round of 2014 – the total of 1,305,462.
And so, where do we stand?

In order to understand well the meaning of the numbers, we need to remind ourselves that, in the second round of 2009, ARENA enjoyed the support of the three parties which today constitute UNIDAD – the PDC, the PCN, and even GANA – the Great Alliance for National Unity – which had not separated from ARENA in that moment. It is worth noting that GANA holds 11 of the 84 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The PCN holds 7 and the PDC just one.  We also add in that GANA suffered most from the verbal poison of Quijano and the other leaders of ARENA. They were accused of being traitors to the cause and allies of communism, and repeatedly each time they collaborated with the FMLN’s caucus in the Assembly. Today the leadership of ARENA recognizes that it has to change the cassette, but it is too late.

There is no reason to doubt that ARENA can count on the support of the greater portion of PCN loyalists, of the country’s historic party on the right. But it is impossible to imagine that one hundred percent of the base of GANA could forget the accumulated differences of the past 4 years and with that confide in ARENA being able to change.  If the new right wants to contain the corruption of the old right, it has not options except to support Salvador Sánchez Ceren and Oscar Ortiz. The FMLN wins the second round with just one-fifth of GANA’s base coming to the same conclusion. Furthermore, it is natural to imagine that there will be more abstentions amongst disappointed ARENA supporters in the second round. Now that the result is clear, why not increase the punishment to the defeated party by resting at home.

There will be consequences of a clear FMLN victory  ARENA is a party which imagines itself the owner of the country, capable of protecting its key elements from whatever persecution or prosecution for their misdemeanours. From the culture of power and the tradition of impunity comes the arrogant tone of their candidate and the high-handedness of their most visible leaders. ARENA is the garantor of impunity.  But the woven protective cloak is fraying and the web of crossbred relations is coming out into the open. Even those protected are transformed into “inside sources” for the proof of corruption and the violation of the nation’s dignity. In those last days of the campaign it was made clear that the spider’s web comes very close to the candidate Quijano. And with that the honourable right feels disappointed and ashamed. 

The most notorious example is the case of ex-president for ARENA, Francisco Flores, who resigned as campaign director on the Friday before the Sunday vote, accused of diverting several million in gifts from Taiwan to his own accounts, during his period of government, 1999-2004. On the day of writing these observations, he remains in hiding and all his property is sequestered by order of the Attorney General for the Republic. This stain on the pride of ARENA cannot be removed in four weeks not even with the most advanced chemicals.

Should ARENA loose power and decidedly on March 9, it is certain that the fattest of the corrupt will confront legal prosecution with no truce. The space will be opened to continue purging the structures of justice system. It will become possible to fence-in the most powerful elements of drug-trafficking – the authors of the violence which imposes the system of extortions.

A political chapter will be opened in which we can talk about a new concept of nation – inclusive and equitable, in which progress is for everyone. We will be granted the option of talking about the realities of the civil war, acknowledging crimes against humanity, pardoning the guilty, and building a national unity.
A new era is opening up. A new El Salvador is being born. 

A definitive victory for the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation – the FMLN – is unavoidable.

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