Salvadorans go to the polls on Sunday to elect new legislators and local officials in a tight contest between the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, FMLN, and the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA, for control of the Legislative Assembly.
Voters in El Salvador will also elect 262 new mayors, some 3,000 municipal council members and 20 country representatives for the Central American Parliament.
For the first time, voters will be able to select individual candidates from any party rather than being forced to vote for a single party with an established list of candidates. Voters can still opt to simply choose a party.
Recent polls show the FMLN slightly ahead of ARENA in legislative votes, but both parties have voiced confidence in taking the majority. Eight other parties are also fielding candidates in the elections.
The Organization of American States will have 60 observers monitoring the elections. Gustavo Fernández, who heads the observation team, told local media that there are no indications of vote rigging.
Fernández noted concern among citizens over how votes under the new system will be counted. He said while there’s a strong possibility of delay in reporting official results, “it’s not a sign of fraud.”
Along with the OAS team, the Supreme Elections Tribunal registered over 3,000 national and international observers to monitor the voting process.
On the security front, thousands of National Civil Police and soldiers are tasked with keeping Election Day calm. Violence continues to be a top concern for Salvadorans. La Prensa Gráfica reported that the Thursday before Election Day was the bloodiest day yet this year, with 25 people murdered.