El Salvador: Leftist FMLN party wins presidential election in tight recount

Victor Sánchez Cerén won 50.11 percent of the vote. Competing ARENA party candidate Quijano has not yet acknowledged the FMLN's win.

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    Presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), speaks during a press conference one day after a presidential runoff election in San Salvador, El Salvador, Monday, March 10, 2014.
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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog. The views expressed are the author's own.

Last night Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the candidate of the left wing FMLN party in El Salvador was officially declared the winner of the March 9 elections to be president of the country. The announcement came after a process called the "final scrutiny," where voting tally sheets from every voting station were compared with the preliminary results released on Sunday night. There were some revisions to the results which produced final totals that were higher than the preliminary totals, but [competing party] ARENA was not able to close the gap. The final total was 1,495,815 for Mr. Cerén to 1,489,451 for ARENA's Norman Quijano, or 50.11 percent to 49.89 percent.

ARENA has not yet accepted the results. Party members continued demonstrating throughout the day demanding that the ballots be unsealed and the votes counted "voto por voto." Mr. Quijano continued to allege that ARENA had proof of significant fraud by the FMLN, but that proof has not been shared with the public. ARENA claimed that 20,000 FMLN poll workers had voted twice on Sunday. Meanwhile, every observer of the election from the Salvadoran attorney general's office (who had a representative at every voting center) to El Salvador's Human Rights ombudsman to various international election observer organizations all repeated that Sunday's elections appeared free and fair.

 During the day on Wednesday, March 12, the armed forces made it clear that they would respect the decision of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, implicitly refuting the statements of Quijano on Sunday night that the army would be ready to "make democracy." The process leaves the country tense and polarized. As of this morning, ARENA's next step is not clear.

 Tim Muth covers the news and politics of El Salvador on his blog.

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