The threat of electoral fraud in El Salvador

In 2009 there are presidential elections as well as mayoral and deputy elections. El Salvador has a history of electoral fraud. The working class together with the poor from the cities and the countryside must be alert to take the necessary action to fight every attempt of fraud in the forthcoming elections.

Read this article in Spanish.

Twenty years of attacks on the workers

The electoral process is a thermometer that measures the temperature of society and reflects class contradictions.

Since ARENA came into the government they have attacked the working class in many ways, with the privatisation of public companies like ANTEL the telecommunications firm that was bought first by France Telecom and now by Carlos Slim (a Mexican telecommunications Capitalist) among others, as well as massive redundancies, in the public sector, lower salaries, increases in the prices of popular consumer products and in general the rising cost of living.

This has had disastrous consequences for our country, like the increase in the number of street sellers, migration out of the country mainly to the United States which has served as an escape valve, the increase in criminality and appalling living conditions.

Massive support for the FMLN

There has been a massive accumulation of discontent and the current crisis has accelerated the situation. The working class and the poor in the countryside and the cities cannot bear it any longer. This is reflected in the massive support for the FMLN which has had massive turn outs at the public events where candidate Funes has been presented and also all the oponion polls that have been made up till now, including those produced by the bourgeoisie. A recent poll, carried out by a company hired by Telecorporación Salvadoreña (TCS) gave the FMLN a lead of only 4.5% over ARENA when all the others gave it a lead of more than 15%, clearly we can be sure that this have been manipulated.

Crumbs that fall from the table

This has forced the Bourgeoisie to make some concessions to the workers, like a salary increase of $50 US Dollars to one part of the public sector workers and $25 US Dollars to the other. Increasing the subsidy to public transport to avoid price hikes to the public, although some analysts think that oil could reach $200 per barrel by the end of the year and this would create much stronger pressures in the current crisis. In a recent election campaign meeting, the presidential candidate of ARENA, backed by the President of the country, announced an increase in pensions and a wage increase for private sector workers following an agreement with the employers.

These measures are designed to recover part of their lost support and reflect that they are very aware and worried by what they see as a certain victory of the FMLN. Many of these concessions will have only a temporary effect. We have to remember that we are in the middle of a world crisis of capitalism and therefore, the conditions of life will increasingly worsen, and the increases are simply crumbs that cannot compensate for the deterioration in the standard of living.

The forthcoming elections

In 2009 there are presidential elections as well as mayoral and deputy elections. Originally it was supposed that they would take place on the same day, but the bourgeoisie decided that they would be separated under the logic that the people would differentiate between the elections.

Historically the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, formerly a guerrilla group) became a political party with the signing of the peace agreements in 1992 has always received more votes in mayoral and deputies elections than ARENA (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista, principal party through which the Salvadorean bourgeoisie has maintained control of the state since 1989).

The bourgeois will not give up power without a fight. The smear campaign and attacks against the FMLN are growing greater all the time. Suffice to mention the false allegations of links with the FARC and more and more frequent use of the same kind of language that was used during war time.

Despite attempts of Funes and the FMLN to present themselves as moderates and reassure that when they reach government they will respect the status quo, the bourgeoisie do not believe them and fear their coming to power. In reality they aren't afraid of Funes and the leadership of the FMLN so much, but rather, the forces of the working class that they represent and who are sure to press the government to take measures in their favour.

The threat of fraud

El Salvador has a history of electoral fraud, the military used to use the elections to legitimise themselves in government.

The bourgeois will use every at their disposal to keep control of the state apparatus including electoral fraud, although now they use methods which are more technical and are not as brazen as before.

On July 13th they filled the Cuzcatlán stadium with more than 60,000 people using dishonest methods like "suggesting" that many public sector workers should attend, paying people to go to the event and other types of tricks, including bringing popular music bands, but by the middle of the speech by Rodrigo Ávila the ARENA presidential candidate, the bulk of the people had already left and the stadium was empty. Recently they have been seen giving out chickens in communities as they ask for votes.

The possibility of fraud is completely real. The bourgeoisie controls the supreme electoral tribunal although the FMLN has a presence, but the parties of the right are have a majority and they have taken many measures like, for example: the separation of the presidential and municipal elections when they could take place the same day, doubling the cost of the resources; allowing voting papers without one of the required signatures to be considered as valid, etc.

Furthermore, the electoral roll is not accurate. According to the bourgeois press there are 100,000 dead people still registered. There is a difference of 836,000 people between the census and the electoral roll. That is to say, there are more people on the roll than in the census.

What can we do?

Our unions and the FMLN must make a call to mobilise and prepare us to fight every bourgeois manoeuvre.

The working class together with the poor from the cities and the countryside must be alert to take the necessary action to fight every attempt of fraud in the forthcoming elections. We must organise to strengthen the local committee of the FMLN and form committees of struggle in the schools, colleges, work places, offices, police and army barracks to defend the workers' votes.

See also: