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El Salvador - 2018 Legislative Election

Members of the Legislative Assembly are directly elected in multi-seat constituencies and a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote to serve 3-year terms. Elections were last held on 01 March 2015.

As the 2018 elections in El Salvador approached, it remained to be seen who will win and what security strategies will be implemented. These outcomes could determine whether the same hardline strategies designed to combat gangs and gang-related activity continue unabated. The next president will have to address many of the underlying problems in the country, including the high levels of violence as well as corruption and lack of transparency. Institutions throughout the country, including the executive, have been tainted by corruption scandals. Former President Antonio Tony Saca, for instance, is currently incarcerated in La Esperanza, Mariona for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the country. In addition, former President Mauricio Funes fled to Nicaragua after corruption allegations. Other institutions, such as the police and the military, allegedly have been involved in death squads. In sum, the future of El Salvador looked bleak unless the institutions within the country can be strengthened through serious reforms.

In elections held 04 March 2018, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren's Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) fell from 31 to 23 seats in the 84-member Legislative Assembly. The National Republican Alliance (ARENA), now led by Mr. Mauricio Interiano, remained the largest party with 37 seats, up from 32. Two other rightist parties - the Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) and the National Concertation Party (PCN) - also fared well, giving the three major right-wing parties 56 seats in all.

During the election campaign, the major parties focused on security issues and the fight against crime. ARENA argued for more austerity in the 2018 but also proposed to allocate more resources to health, education, and security. The FMLN promised to continue to defend social programs.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of El Salvador recognized 07 March 2018 there was an informatics error in the software in charge of counting the votes of the legislative and municipal elections as one observer mission expressed concerns over the "complexity of the voting system. That would mean that the votes were assigned to wrong candidates within the same party. This affected some candidates that were trying to get into the congress. Rodolfo Parker and other two candidates from the Democratic Christian Party (PDC), for example, will have a seat in congress after the preliminary results originally said they wouldn't.

More than 87 percent of the votes had been processed, giving the lead to right wing Arena with 765,542 votes, followed by the FMLN with 440,406. The leftist ruling party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), recognized their defeat and said they would change its directions to appeal to the public's will. The message expressed by the citizens towards the parties and the FMLN will be considered in a responsible and deep reflection that will meet the learned lessons to take decisions and correct what's necessary, said Medardo Gonzalez, the FMLN's general secretary.

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