El Salvador: Netizens Cover Legislative and Mayoral Elections

Netizens in El Salvador covered the legislative and mayoral elections held on Sunday, March 11, 2012, through blogs and social media. They reported throughout the day and then analyzed the results on the following days; on Twitter Salvadorans used the hashtag #eleccionesSV [es].

One of the blogs that stayed on top of the elections and offered background information for local and international readers was El Salvador from the Inside:

Today, March 11, 2012, up to 4.5 million Salvadorans will vote for 84 senators and 262 mayors in a legislative and municipal election. Nine parties are running (and 5 candidates are independent).

There is an exciting change in El Salvador with this election. Up to now, individual voters have not been able to elect individual “Senators” (Diputado is the word in Spanish for representatives in the legislative assembly).  Previously, you had to vote for a “party”, and the party would then choose the Diputado (sounds like an easy way to get re-elected, doesn’t it?).  Well, that’s half changed, because citizens can still vote for a “party,” like before, or they can now vote for individual candidates.

El Salvador 2012 ballot. The new open-list ballot used in the Salvadoran legislative election of March 11, 2012. Image uploaded to Flickr by Matthew Shugart (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

El Salvador 2012 ballot. The new open-list ballot used in the Salvadoran legislative election of March 11, 2012. Image uploaded to Flickr by Matthew Shugart (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Online newspaper El Faro posted several Storify posts with tweets, images and other citizen media of the campaign (1 [es], 2 [es]), the day before [es] the election, election day (1 [es], 2 [es]), the vote count, and signs of electoral fraud [es]

Jjmar from Hunnapuh wrote two posts on election day. First [es] he reported on problems affecting the start of the day in San Salvador. Later, towards the end of the day, he noted [es] more of the voting conditions and concluded:

Bueno amigos y amigas, después de las cinco de la tarde, siéntense es su sillón favorito, con una taza de cafecito para respetar la ley seca y diviértase un rato. Al fin y al cabo, la democracia formal tiene su lado de Reality Show que vale la pena disfrutar.

Well friends, after 5 in the afternoon, sit down on your favorite couch, with a cup of coffee to respect the “dry law” [which prohibits consuming alcohol for 3 days] and have a little fun. After all, formal democracy has its Reality Show side that is worth enjoying.

Tim's El Salvador Blog reported on the preliminary results on Monday, the day after the election:

According to provisional vote totals from yesterday's elections, the conservative ARENA [Nationalist Republican Alliance] party appears to have been the biggest winner for both El Salvador's National Assembly seats and mayors. ARENA won 33 seats in the 84 seat National Assembly.  This is one more seat than the party won in the 2009 elections, but is more impressive when you consider that 12 deputies had defected from ARENA to form the GANA [Grand Alliance for National Unity] party leaving ARENA with only 20 seats in the National Assembly.

GANA was running in its first elections, and managed to capture 11 seats. Together with ARENA, their 44 seats could be a strong majority bloc in the National Assembly.  Although it is still possible that the FMLN, GANA and CD [Democratic Change] could be a majority voting bloc with 43 votes.

These elections were seen as a test for President Mauricio Funes‘ left-leaning party FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front). The FMLN will now hold 31 seats in the National Assembly after losing 4 seats in these elections. This change in the National Assembly prompted blogger Marjuna [es] -also from Hunnapuh- to look at the math and voting formulas needed to reach a simple majority in the new National Assembly.

Chambita Hernandez from the blog Gatos Frentudos [es] points out that ARENA's results are a good sign for democracy because its representatives will be a “counterweight” in the National Assembly. Chambita says that the FMLN has time to learn from these results before the next elections and ends the post congratulating the Salvadoran people:

Felicito enormemente a la población salvadoreña que cumplió con su deber cívico de ir a votar, es un paso más en la democracia y espero que en la próxima elección tengamos muchas propuestas, menos canciones; más debates de altura entre contendientes y no decir que el verdadero debate es con el pueblo.

I enthusiastically congratulate the Salvadoran population who fulfilled their civic duty to vote. It is another step towards democracy and I hope that in the next election we have many proposals, less songs; more quality debates between contenders and point out that the real debate is with the people.


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