EL SALVADOR
Parliamentary Chamber: Asamblea legislativa

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2003

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Chamber:
  Asamblea legislativa


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  16 March 2003


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.


Background and outcome of elections:

  On 16 March 2003, all 84 seats in the Parliament and 262 mayoral seats nationwide were contested in the fifth election since a ceasefire ended a 12-year civil war in 1992.

The main contenders in the race were the National Republican Alliance (ARENA), which had ruled the country in three consecutive governments, and the opposition Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), the party of the country's former leftist guerrillas. Nine other small political parties ran candidates in the elections. In the campaign, the ruling ARENA pledged the continuation of the drive towards free trade and privatisation that has characterised its agenda, while the opposition emphasised the decline in growth rates and increasing crime. Other issues in the election campaign included unemployment, crime, poverty and the failure of political parties to reach agreements in Parliament.

In the run-up to the election, at least five persons died in campaign-related violence. The sale of alcohol was banned for three days before the polling. Anyone caught drinking alcohol or selling it faced a fine of $114.

Despite the violent campaign, voting was reportedly largely peaceful, but there were some irregularities. Some polling stations opened late, and while some voters' names had been left off the electoral register, some deceased voters were still on the list. To avoid further incidents, a heavy police presence was deployed at polling places.

Electoral apathy and voter abstention were manifest, as turnout was only some 39 per cent of all registered voters.

The opposition FMLN emerged the largest portion of seats in these elections. It won the same number of legislators in the Legislative Assembly as in the outgoing legislature (31 out of 84 seats) and retained control of key municipal governments, including that of San Salvador. The ruling ARENA, on the other hand, lost municipalities and two legislators (retaining 27 seats). The conservative and traditional ally of ARENA, the National Conciliation Party (PCN), obtained 16 seats, three more than in the 2000 elections, which guaranteed ARENA the requisite working majority in the Legislative Assembly.

On 1 May 2003, the newly elected Legislative Assembly held its first sitting and re-elected Mr. Ciro Cruz Zepeda as its Speaker.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (16 March 2003): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 3 537 091
Valid votes 1 005 285

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) 339 727 33.79
National Republican Alliance (ARENA) 321 685 32.00
National Conciliation Party (PCN) 131 762 13.11
Christian Democratic Party (PDC) 73 271 7.29
United Democratic Centre (CDU) 63 530 6.32

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) 31
National Republican Alliance (ARENA) 27
National Conciliation Party (PCN) 16
Christian Democratic Party (PDC) 5
United Democratic Centre (CDU) 5

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 75
Women: 9
Percent of women: 10.71


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Copyright 2003 Inter-Parliamentary Union