HomeNewsBriefWhat do Tight Presidential Elections Mean for Security in El Salvador?
BRIEF

What do Tight Presidential Elections Mean for Security in El Salvador?

EL SALVADOR / 11 MAR 2014 BY SETH ROBBINS EN

Tensions are mounting in El Salvador with the results of presidential elections still too close to call -- a situation that does not bode well for the country's dire security situation.

Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren appeared, as of March 11, to have won the election by a razor-thin margin of 6,584 votes over his conservative rival, Norman Quijano. However, El Salvador's election authority (TSE) has said it will not proclaim a winner until the end of the week, reported La Prensa Grafica.

Quijano and his Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party are disputing the results, calling the elections process fraudulent, protesting outside the TSE headquarters, and even threatening to involve the army.

The tensions add the specter of political unrest to a chaotic security situation that has seen the country's once lauded truce between street gangs declared nonexistent by police officials, and murders increase from about five per day following the implementation of the truce in 2012 to nearly nine per day in recent months, reported El Mundo.

InSight Crime Analysis

All signs point to the FMLN candidate maintaining his lead in the vote count. However, with such a small margin of victory, whoever wins will lack the mandate to take strong action to address the country's security crisis.

If Sanchez Ceren does win, he will inherit a security mess made, in part, by the inconsistent policies of his own party. The outgoing Mauricio Funes administration will be best remembered for the gang truce, yet has never publically thrown its full support behind the pact.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of El Salvador Gang Truce

During his campaign, Sanchez Ceren never made any official statements on the truce, other than to say that the FMLN under Funes never supported it -- a claim that seems increasingly disingenuous as evidence mounts that government officials not only tacitly supported the truce but also may have paid jailed gang leaders to respect it. The FMLN candidate also never outlined his security strategy, other than to say he would create a national network of police.

While the future of the gang truce and El Salvador security policies under a Sanchez Ceren government remain unclear, if his rival were to win, then it would likely spell the end of the truce and a return to hardline security policies -- including the militarization of security to combat crime.

Possibly the most damaging outcome for El Salvador though, would be a protracted dispute over the election results, especially if it leads to violent confrontation. As Honduras has found out since its 2009 coup, political upheaval and instability can act as an open invitation for organized crime to capitalize on the chaos. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 12 AUG 2015

El Salvador has invoked its anti-terrorism laws to prosecute alleged gang members -- raising the debate over definitions of crime…

BARRIO 18 / 3 JAN 2012

A top drug policy official in El Salvador said they have no official estimate for how much cocaine transits through…

EL SALVADOR / 10 JUN 2016

The recent arrest of a Salvadoran mayor, charged with using his position to provide favors to gang members in exchange…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…