Last night, shortly after midnight, El Salvador’s electoral authority, the Supreme
Electoral Tribunal (TSE), finished the final count of the original vote tally sheets from each of the country’s 10,445 voting tables. The process was delayed by the right-wing ARENA party, whose representatives abandoned the counting tables on multiple occasions throughout the evening. In the name of stability and the public’s right to the results, the TSE ultimately decided continue the count with or without ARENA’s presence. The final results came in with 1,495,815 votes for FMLN candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén and 1,489,451 votes for ARENA candidate Norman Quijano, a difference of 6,364 votes, or 0.22%, in favor of the FMLN.
The vote count is now complete and shows a clear win for Sánchez Cerén. However, the TSE cannot officially declare Cerén President-elect, because ARENA has submitted a legal request to the TSE to nullify the elections. According to the Electoral Code, the TSE must rule on ARENA’s request to nullify the elections before making the results official, and the legally mandated timeline for parties to submit evidence means a decision won’t be made until early next week. It is likely that the case will be found to be baseless and rejected, considering the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations, and other major international observation missions all found the electoral process to be transparent and fair. While ARENA prepares its next strategic move in its assault on El Salvador’s democratic institutions, the FMLN is preparing a massive celebration for Saturday, March 15th, to celebrate its victory.