FMLN engages public in developing 2014 presidential platform, right-wing scrambles to catch up

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The leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party is currently carrying out a massive popular consultation, lauched in February and known as the National Dialogue for the El Salvador that We Want, that intends to “build a government program that responds to the real needs of the population, and above all guarantees the continuity and expansion of the changes begun under this current government,” according to the official FMLN statement. The first of all parties to formalize its presidential ticket by several months, the FMLN is also well ahead of its competitors in the formation of its 2014 platform.

With the help of 300,000 party activists, they plan on knocking on the door of every single household in the country, and have already visited over 150,000 homes and set up consultation booths at events like the "Revolution Avenue" Youth Arts Festival. Consultation questions address a vast array of issues, including how the government should improve the quality and access to university education, promote women’s rights and participation and those of indigenous peoples, increase state income and improve the efficiency and coverage of state services. A recently launched website allows domestic and foreign users to offer responses to questions around six main themes: youth, Salvadorans abroad, environmental sustainability, and economic, political and social transformation.

The FMLN has also taken the consultation abroad. Oscar Ortíz, the vice-presidential candidate, along with FMLN legislators Karina Sosa and Cristina Cornejo are concluding a tour of North America where they have met with Salvadorans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York, New Jersey and Toronto. FMLN International Relations Secretary Nidia Díaz travelled to Mexico City last week to hear the concerns and proposals of Salvadorans living there. Party representatives will also travel to and consult with Salvadorans living in Belize, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Australia. At a Washington DC event, legislator Karina Sosa commented that it is crucial that Salvadorans living abroad are involved in constructing the party’s government program because the Salvadoran Constitution protects all Salvadorans and, “therefore, it is the duty of the State to serve Salvadorans wherever they are in the world.”

The Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party announced on March 11th that it would begin a consultation to craft the party platform under the leadership of Miguel Ángel Simán, member of one of the nation’s wealthiest families and recent board member of the right-wing think tank FUSADES. ARENA has also created a website where users can input ideas to make the country “more competitive.” Ex-President and right-wing UNIDAD coalition candidate Tony Saca, formerly of the ARENA party, conducted a brief “national consultation tour” in March; he has yet to announce his running mate.

As the right-wing plays catch-up to the well underway, broad-based FMLN consultation, the most recent CID Gallup poll results give the FMLN a 4-point lead over ARENA and 8 points over UNIDAD.

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