International Observers for February 2 Elections: Press Statement
February 4th, 2014
San Salvador, El Salvador
We represent four international solidarity organizations, the SHARE Foundation, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Sister Cities and the Cristosal Foundation. On February 2nd, we carried out several far-reaching international elections observation missions during the first round of presidential elections [in El Salvador]. Between our four delegations, we had two hundred and five observers who stationed themselves across the country; among these were representatives of the National Lawyer’s Guild, the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), a city councilor, a former Mayor of Berkeley, CA, as well as academics and representatives from various universities, churches, unions, and other institutions. We divided ourselves between the departments of San Salvador, La Libertad, Cuscatlán, Santa Ana, Cabañas, and Ahuachapán in 16 distinct municipalities, covering dozens of voting centers, both rural and urban, in order to document each moment of the electoral process and assure its transparency. At the end of this first stage, we recognize the most up-to-date preliminary results released by the TSE, 48.93% for the FMLN party, 38.95% for the ARENA party, and 11.44% for the UNIDAD coalition, and we are confident that the official results the TSE will announce tomorrow will reflect the Salvadoran people’s will as expressed at the ballot boxes on Sunday.
Our organizations have observed all the elections that have taken place in El Salvador since the Peace Accords were signed [in 1992]. We recognize that these presidential elections are historic for the high degree of smoothness, regularity, and professionalism with which they were carried out despite all obstacles. We congratulate the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE, in Spanish), which, according to our observations, has worked diligently to increase the transparency of the electoral process. We would like to recognize in particular the great democratic advances that have been made with the implementation of a residential voting system nationwide. On February 2nd we were witness to the most accessible voting process ever available to the [Salvadoran] population through the opening of more than 1,593 voting centers, allowing for shorter waiting times and increased accessibility for voters with disabilities than in previous years. We also wish to congratulate all Salvadoran citizens who worked in the voting centers for their enthusiastic participation in this democratic process and for their efforts to assure a democratic, nonpartisan and transparent electoral process overall.
We did document some irregularities, such as the mayors of Ayutuxtepeque, Mejicanos and Antiguo Cuscatlán campaigning inside voting centers, and the lack of sufficient UNIDAD representatives at the Voting Reception Boards in various voting centers, which caused their delayed openings; however, these incidents did not significantly impact election results.
In regards to the international context for these elections, as observers and organizations based in the United States, we are very satisfied with the declaration published by the United States Embassy yesterday, February 3rd, congratulating Salvadorans for their “civic celebration” and for a “transparent and orderly” process, and reiterating a “commitment to work closely with the government elected by the Salvadoran people.” We consider this statement of neutrality and formal recognition of Salvadoran decision-making to be a great advancement, given that a supposed electoral preference by the United States government has been used in past election campaigns to influence the Salvadoran people’s right to a sovereign decision-making process.
Last night we submitted our first preliminary Election Day observations to the TSE. In the next few weeks, each organization will create its own comprehensive report detailing all of its observations, recommendations, and denunciations documented during our observation. In addition to being submitted to the TSE, these reports will also be available to the public. As international electoral observers, we have worked carefully and rigorously to assure a transparent and functional electoral process, and we are committed to continuing these efforts in order to guarantee the success of the second round of elections which will take place on March 9th. As we have done in years past, we will accompany the strengthening of democracy taking place in El Salvador since the signing of the Peace Accords with the hope that this process will continue for the good of all Salvadorans.