Preparations begin for 2014 presidential elections

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Date set for 2014 elections On October 17, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the institution that oversees and regulates elections in El Salvador, set the date for the 2014 elections for February 2nd. In the case that no candidate achieves the 50% plus a single vote that is necessary to win the presidency in the first round, a run-off election between the top two candidates will be held on March 9th of 2014.

Regulations on political parties debated in legislature Several proposals for a law to regulate political parties are currently being debated in the Legislative Assembly’s Electoral and Constitutional Reforms Committee. According to FMLN legislative representative Jackeline Rivera, “vast differences of opinion” exist in the debate between the FMLN and the right-wing parties over proposed limits on private donations to parties and proposed regulations on campaign advertising. In addition to these measures, the bills being debated also include enforced quotas for women’s and youth participation in political parties, the mandatory publication of parties’ financial records, public funding for parties, and a system of sanctions to enforce the new regulations.

Projects to increase voter participation advance On October 22, the five Magistrates of the TSE agreed to extend the system of residential voting, which has been implemented in phases in the past four elections, to the entire national territory. This system increases the number of voting centers and assigns people to the center closest to their home, as opposed to the traditional system that assigned them to municipal voting centers alphabetically, forcing many to travel long distances to vote.

Another initiative, a bill submitted to the Legislative Assembly on July 18 by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, would allow the more than 2.6 million Salvadorans that live in the US to vote in Salvadoran elections, either through mail or at their consulates. Though the TSE has said the law would need to be approved by the end of the year in order to carry out all of the logistical preparations, the Electoral and Constitutional Reforms Committee in the legislature has yet to put it on their agenda, prioritizing debate on the Political Party law. Despite the delay in, last week the National Registry of Naturalized Persons (RNPN) began issuing the ID cards that serve as voter identification at the Los Angeles consulate and plans to expand the service to other US cities with large Salvadoran populations.

New political parties in formation On October 1, a new party formed by retired military officers and known as the Salvadoran Progressive Party (PSP) announced it had been recognized by the TSE after fulfilling all necessary legal requirements. Dagoberto Gutierrez, an FMLN defector and leader of the Revolutionary Tendency movement, is also collecting signatures for the creation of a new, leftist party that will be known as the New Country Movement (MNP) following the electoral losses of all the independent candidates he supported in last March’s midterm elections.

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