ARENA Uses Anti-democratic Practices in Last Days of Legislative Assembly to Assure Rightwing Contro

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The right wing in the Legislative Assembly managed to push through a number of constitutional reforms and Supreme Court nominations in a super-extended final session before Monday's swearing of the new Assembly. However, they were unable to get $357 million in international loans approved, a vote that the FMLN had not supported because it included no long-term planning for getting out of El Salvador's severe debt. In the long term it is unlikely that the five constitutional reforms approved last week (without the FMLN's votes) will actually take effect, since constitutional reforms require ratification by two different Legislative Assemblies, and as of Monday the FMLN again has more than one third of the seats.

The last-minute election of the 5 Supreme Court judges ensures ARENA control over what should be more "independent" governmental bodies. Also, important FMLN-proposed reforms that would improve the electoral process by separating the administrative and jurisdictional functions of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and depoliticize both the TSE and the head of the National Register of Naturalized Citizens (RNPN) were not even discussed. Both institutions have been heavily criticized for acting in ARENA's interests.

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