From the 2012 Elections Blog
With over 95% of the ballots counted, the results of the March 2012 legislative and municipal elections are in.
Legislative elections results
The right-wing ARENA party has recuperated a significant number of seats in the Legislative Assembly, winning 33 seats out of 84 seats, one more seat than they won in 2009, followed closely by the leftist FMLN party, which won 31 seats. The second largest, and newest, right-wing party, GANA, whose members split off from ARENA following their defeat in 2009, held onto 11 seats. One of El Salvador’s oldest conservative parties, the CN (formerly known as the PCN) won only 6 seats while the PES (formerly known as the Christian Democrats, or PDC) and the Cambio Democráctico (CD) won just one seat each. None of the independent candidates who ran for the first time in this election won enough votes for a seat in the Assembly.
This will be the first time since the 2003 elections when the FMLN will hold fewer seats in the Assembly than ARENA. Since 2009, the FMLN has held 35 seats, while ARENA was down to only 18 (having lost many during GANA’s exodus). The FMLN’s leadership in the Assembly allowed for the passage of several progressive laws that ARENA opposed, including tax increases on the rich and El Salvador’s biggest corporations, regulations of the pharmaceutical industry to bring down the cost of medicine, and a budget that dramatically increased public spending on social services. The passage of further-reaching reforms will become more difficult over the next three years, especially considering that the right-wing parties can easily unite to form a simple majority (43 votes).
However, with 31 seats –over one-third of the total seats– the FMLN still “holds the key,” as Deputy Lorena Peña, head the FMLN’s legislative fraction, said this morning, to many legislative decisions. Even if all the right wing parties were to unite around a legislative initiative that required a 2/3 majority – for example, approving international loans – it would not pass without the FMLN’s votes. This gives the FMLN some important room to maneuver; furthermore, if the FMLN is able to unite with GANA and at least one of the smaller parties, the CD or the PCN, which each have one seat, they can form a simple majority and continue to pass laws even without the support of ARENA, as they have at various times over the past three years.
Municipal elections results
In the elections for mayors and city councils, the FMLN increased the number of municipalities where they will now govern from 96 to 119, according to reporting this morning on Radio Mayavisión, with some municipalities still to be counted. However, ARENA won some extremely close races in several cities in San Salvador area (including Mejicanos, Apopa, and Autuxtepeque) as the county seats in 9 out of 14 departments, including the capitol city of San Salvador, where incumbent mayor Norman Quijano beat FMLN candidate Jorge Schafik Handal.
Stay tuned for the official report
from CISPES’ election observation delegation, with further analysis on the electoral process itself, including the impact of several reforms that were implemented for the first time on Sunday.