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El Salvador: a vote for democracy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

WHAT For the first time in Salvadoran history, a citizen will be able to vote for the candidate of his or her choice, starting with next month’s legislative elections. Under the new system, voters in each department of the country will use a ballot, which shows the name (and even the picture) of each candidate. Until now, the ballot only offered the name of each registered political party. Party officials, meanwhile, picked the candidates, which would be elected, depending on the number of votes, which the party received.

WHY President Mauricio Funes and his FMLN party want to create a more open political system.

WHAT NEXT Direct elections could make government less efficient, as party leaders to some degree lose control over their troops. On the other hand, the change should create greater confidence among voters, who have a more direct involvement in the political process. For their part, elected officials should feel a greater sense of responsibility to constituents, who personally chose them. Honduras is the other Central American country, in which voters choose specific candidates. The other countries of the region, in which party leaders continue to determine winning candidates, might want to consider switching systems.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]