The recent Presidential election in El Salvador failed to draw in enough votes to avoid a runoff election in March. There were two main contenders in El Salvador: Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the left-leaning Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and Norman Quijano of the right-leaning Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA.)
Sánchez Ceren won 48.9 percent of the vote, just shy of the 50 percent mark needed to avoid another election. On the other hand, Quijano won 38.95 percent of the vote. A distant third candidate, former President Antonio Saca, won only 11.4 percent support.
The FMLN formed following the end of the El Salvadorian civil war in 1992 and first gained power in 2009. The FMLN has been popular because of its welfare policies, including free school supplies and pensions. Quijano and ARENA promise to increase security by deploying the army to fight the gangs wreaking havoc in the region.
El Salvador remains impoverished and crime-ridden, with remittances from the United States totaling about 20 percent of its gross domestic product. Sánchez Ceren says he will fight to increase economic growth by introducing tax incentives to increase investment in important areas such as energy and to improve the country’s hard infrastructure to increase the ease of transportation for goods such as ports.
Sánchez Ceren has also said he would seek to join Venezuela’s Petrocaribe oil bloc, which gives allies, mostly other leftist countries, with cheap energy. This Salvadoran reliance upon Venezuelan oil will create a bigger economic and political tie with the left-wing country; it may also increase further cooperation across other areas.
Both candidates come from very different backgrounds: Sánchez Ceren is a former guerilla commander and current Vice President who has promised to expand welfare programs and benefits. Quijano is the former mayor of San Salvador and has been critical of the wary truce between gangs achieved under the administration of current President Mauricio Funes of the FMLN.
- Jeff Meyer