VFP members John Chadwick, Mike Tork, Lorna VanderZanden, Peter Berris and Steve Boyer are in San Salvador, El Salvador, preparing to serve as Election Observers in the February 2, 2014 Presidential Election. Orientation and training focus on the specific roles of official observers as well as the history the country’s Civil War and recovery.
Since the 1992 Salvadoran Peace Accords ended the Civil War (1980-1991), presidential elections have been held every five years. For twenty years the right-leaning ARENA party held the presidency. In 2009 the leftist FMLN party’s Mauricio Funes won the office.
Current polls show the FMLN leading ARENA by several percentage points. A third party, UNIDAD, headed by Tony Saca, who was El Salvador’s president from 2004-2009 while in the ARENA party, is 20 points behind. If any candidate attains 50% plus one vote, he wins the presidency in the first balloting round. If not, a run-off will be held in March. FMLN hopes for a first-round victory because it fears the two right-leaning parties would join forces to win if a second round of voting is required.
Pre-election violence is ramping up with an estimated 9 murders per day in this smallest Central American nation of 6 million people. There is concern that post-election violence will flare according to the Universidad Centroamerica's Institute of Public Opinion.
Submitted by by Lorna VanderZanden