Salvadorans took to the polls on March 4 for a nationwide vote to elect municipal and legislative representatives. President Salvador Sánchez Ceren’s party, Farabaundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), suffered a historic blow. Preliminary results show that it received around half as many votes as the right-wing opposition party, Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).
ARENA won 37 of 84 open seats in the National Legislative Assembly, consolidating the congressional majority. The FMLN will go from having 31 representatives to 23, the lowest legislative representation it has seen in 20 years. The incumbent party also lost several local offices to ARENA, including key municipalities such as San Salvador.
These results may cause problems for President Sánchez, who still has more than a year of his term remaining. The FMLN’s congressional loss means that President Sánchez will be unable to veto opposition legislation, and it is likely that his legislative agenda will be continuously blocked by ARENA.
The election has reshuffled the current government. Two weeks after the vote, President Sánchez appointed new names to several ministerial positions, including the Minister of Economy and the Minister of Treasury.
‘‘[We will] work to ensure a better quality of public services, more public and private investment, and… better public security,’’ said President Sánchez during his announcement, according to a statement published on the administration’s official website. With these changes, President Sánchez is aiming for a more executive and effective government that will attempt to coincide with what the people want.
Although El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal officially closed the vote count, the election’s outcome will not be formally announced until the second week of April.