ARENA legislator resigns, party now unable to block 2/3 majority votes
This morning (Thursday, April 4), right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party legislator Claudia Ramírez resigned from her party. ARENA is left with only 28 legislative seats and can no longer unilaterally block decisions that require a 2/3 majority vote, such as international loan approval, functionary elections and constitutional reforms. Ramírez cited a lack of direction and leadership in ARENA as her reasons for leaving. She told the press that the party’s current leadership is “taking ARENA to its funeral,” and that she will continue as an independent legislative representative.
Ramirez’s resignation highlights the major internal divisions that ARENA faces as its candidate for the February 2014 presidential elections, San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano, is falling in the polls. Her decision is the third splintering of the party’s legislative group since ARENA lost the executive office after 20 consecutive years of governance in 2009 to the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party. Ramirez’s desertion also follows the March resignation of Francisco Lainez, a high-profile party leader, and a total shake-up of ARENA’s leadership in February of this year.
The Legislative Assembly now breaks down as follows: the FMLN with 31 seats, ARENA with 28, the Grand National Alliance (GANA) party with 11, the National Conciliation Party (PCN) with 7, the Christian Democrats (PDC) with 1, Democratic Change (CD) with 1, and an additional 5 independent legislators.