EspañolSalvadorans gathered on Sunday, March 1, to cast their ballots in national parliamentary and municipal elections, as well as select 20 first-time representatives to the Central American Parliament. However, more than 12 hours after the polls officially closed, the election authority has yet to release the results, citing “technical problems.”
“We’ve had a problem releasing [the results], and we must admit it to the nation,” said Julio Olivo, the head of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), early Monday morning. Olivo has called on all competing parties to hold off from proclaiming victory before the official vote tally is known.
Olivo further blamed the delay on the software company Soluciones Aplicativas that the TSE contracted to process the results, and said the TSE’s own processing system “worked properly.”
International observers were reportedly satisfied with the electoral process in El Salvador and attributed the delay to “the complexity of the vote.”
The opposition party Nationalistic Republican Alliance (ARENA), has demanded that the TSE “immediately solve the errors,” and provide information to the public in order to “bring tranquility and confidence regarding the vote counting process.”
Jorge Velado, head of the ARENA Nationalist Executive Committee, said he believes it is unacceptable for election results to be delayed this long. “Instead of going forward, we are going backwards. It can’t be like this, and we are worried,” he said in a press conference.
Despite requests from election authorities to postpone their announcements, both the ruling party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and ARENA, shared celebratory messages with supporters via Twitter.
— ARENA (@ARENAOFICIAL) March 2, 2015
“The big winner of this election is called the Nationalistic Republican Alliance”
la gran victoria electoral del FMLN.
— FMLN Oficial (@FMLNoficial) March 2, 2015
“Big election victory for the FMLN”
2015 Election Debuts
The 2015 elections marks a number of firsts for El Salvador. After a November 2014 Supreme Court decision, voters are now able to choose among the different parties to produce their own list of candidates for the legislative body. The so-called cross vote allows the public to have the “full ability to choose freely among the various candidates,” said the Court.
The voting system, however, has caused confusion among the voting public, especially the elderly. Eighty-four-year-old Bernardino Rivera, from San Salvador, told El Faro that he felt “frustrated” having to choose among 150 candidates on the ballot in the voting room.
The 2015 elections also marked the first time that Salvadorans will choose representatives for the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), a regional parliamentary body with its headquarters in Guatemala, which aims to promote the political integration of the region. Elected representatives will take office in 2016.
This was also the first time political parties in El Salvador were obliged to follow a gender quota ensuring at least 30 percent of their candidates were women.
Juan Orlando Zepeda, one of two former generals seeking a congressional seat with ARENA, was indicted by a Spanish court in 2011 over his alleged involvement in the killing of six Jesuit priests in November 1989, during his tenure as vice minister of Defense amid the Salvadoran civil war.
On Sunday, after casting his ballot, Zepeda predicted 2019 would be the year “all this comes to an end,” referring to the administration of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the first former guerrilla member to reach the presidency in El Salvador.
Mauricio Ernesto Vargas, the other former general running for office with ARENA, has also been accused of human-rights violations by US prosecutors.
The Democratic Change party candidate Martin Claramount, on the ballot in the municipality of La Paz, has been linked to a drug-trafficking network that imported cocaine from Panama and moved it to Guatemala. According to the attorney general, a witness revealed the identities of those working for the criminal network and fingered Claramount as a bounty hunter who collected debts between cartels.
Several other candidates from competing parties have either already been convicted on corruption charges or await trial on allegations of human trafficking and murder.
Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.