Thursday, February 23, 2012

El Salvador's March Elections

Salvadorans will go to the polls once again on March 11th to vote for 84 members of the Legislative Assembly and 262 mayors. In recent months, most polls have indicated that ARENA is poised for a comeback.

According to a recent LPG Datos poll on voter intentions when it comes to mayoral election, 29.3% of those interviewed support ARENA, 24.2% the FMLN. 8.8% the Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional (GANA), 5.2% the Concertación Nacional (CN), 1.7% PDC/PES, and 1% for the CD. Thirty percent remain undecided or won't say.

In the capital, current mayor Norman Quijano of ARENA has a solid advantage over Jorge Schafik Hándal of the FMLN. Sixty-one percent intend to vote Quijano and 15.1% Hándal. Another 2% are to other candidates and the rest are unknown. Eighty percent of those interviewed have a positive image of Quijano while only 31% have a positive image of Hándal.

CID-Galup/Diario La Pagina
Tim links to a CID-Galup/Diario La Pagina poll about voter intentions for deputies. Thirty-four percent are inclined to vote for the FMLN and 32% for ARENA. GANA is in third place with 10%. Six percent indicate that they will likely vote for another party and 18% didn't respond. In 2009, the FMLN won 43% of the congressional vote and ARENA captured 39%.

LPG Datos also poll voter intentions for deputy. ARENA has 26.4% support while the FMLN comes in at 24.4%. Twenty-six percent say they don't know how they will vote. See here for more about LPG Datos' poll.

Consulta Mitofsky also published poll results this week giving the advantage to ARENA. For congress, 30.3% intend to vote ARENA and 23.4 FMLN. GANA holds on to third with 6.2% and the other parties each receive less than 2% support. The remaining 33% aren't voting or don't know for whom they will vote. Thirty four percent are inclined to vote ARENA and 24% FMLN for municipal office. GANA's support comes close to 10%.

IUDOP/UCA also released poll number this week indicating a much closer race between ARENA and the FMLN. Twenty eight percent intend to vote FMLN for congress followed closely by ARENA at 26.4% GANA comes in at 6.3%. Interestingly, Jeannette Aguilar says that about 10% of the people who voted FMLN in 2009 have withdrawn their support for the party.

The difference between ARENA and the FMLN is narrower in the preferences for municipal council elections. Here once again heads the FMLN with 28.6 percent, followed by ARENA with 28.2.

We don't really know what's going to happen in two weeks. Since the last election, residential voting has been introduced in most municipalities but not all. Voting for individual candidates rather than parties has also been introduced. The FMLN agreed to candidate-based voting but has been encouraging its supporters to vote FMLN rather than for individual candidates. In the Mitofsky poll, 40% said that they are going to vote for the party and another 40% said that they will vote for individual candidate's photos. Forty-eight percent also said that they didn't know how elections for deputies work. (Check out Tim's posts here and here and the comments that go along with them as well.)

The PCN and PDC were cancelled following the last election but both will present candidates under different banners this time (CN and PES). ARENA split after the 2009 and this will be the first election for GANA. If the PD, MNR, and FDR teach us anything, it's that GANA doesn't have much of a future. This time might be different however.

Then there's the fact that President Funes is still relatively popular throughout the country even though the militants from the party with which he is aligned are very disappointed in his administration. Will they turn out in support of the party or will their disappointment with Funes lead them to stay home?

According to the LPG Datos poll, 34% self-identify ideologically on the right and only 23% on the left. Dinorah Azpuru's research indicates that this is one of the best predictors of the vote over the last fifteen years. Given the disappointment with the economic and security situation and the rightward tilt in ideology, the elections probably won't turn out too well for the FMLN.

I imagine ARENA will pick up a few seats in the congress and might surpass the FMLN as the largest party, but not by much. ARENA should also maintain its dominance of municipal elections.


  1. Nice summary Mike. I agree with your prediction. I'm more interested this time in whether voting for individual candidates produces some interesting results. Will some of the party leaders, particularly in the FMLN, who were always guaranteed a seat in the Assembly get thrown out?

  2. Thanks. I'm sure that the FMLN leaders did their best to protect themselves and ensure reelection. However, the rules changes did add an interesting wrinkle.

    I'm also interested in what happens to GANA given the three breakaway factions of the FMLN all failed. GANA has more money and looks like it has enough support to potentially play an important role in the next congress. Given Funes' relationship with the FMLN and rumors surrounding his relationship with GANA, I find this an interesting subplot.