SAN SALVADOR – Campaigning for the March 4 legislative and municipal elections in El Salvador is taking place peacefully and all signs indicate the balloting and its aftermath also will unfold smoothly, the head of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission to that country told EFE on Thursday.
Spain’s Carlos Iturgaiz, a member of the European Parliament, said his delegation had not registered any confrontations and that the anomalies that had been detected were negligible or very small.
“The campaign is being carried out amid a great deal of tranquility ... the EU’s mission has been here for a month and so far no confrontations have been observed,” he added.
“There have been no major complaints or serious problems, and this gives us a sense of normalcy and calm, which we expect will be reflected on March 4 and the days to follow, after the results are in,” Iturgaiz said.
The MEP termed as positive two election simulations that El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has conducted with the aim of spotting any potential flaws or mismanagement.
In the coming days, the TSE will repeat the simulation conducted last weekend in a bid to fix the problems that were detected, Iturgaiz said.
Minor problems such as transportation, which has been “very deficient and poorly organized”; and logistics must be solved, according to the delegation chief.
The March elections are very important as El Salvador makes preparations for the 2019 presidential balloting, according to Iturgaiz, who also gave a press conference to discuss the observers’ work.
He said there had been no security complaints thus far, although some political parties want assurances that citizens will be able to arrive at voting centers unhindered.
Public safety concerns are not an electoral problem; rather they are part of daily life in El Salvador, Iturgaiz said, adding that he hoped solutions can be found so that “people can live completely normally.”
The MEP said a press conference would be held on March 6 to present a report containing election observers’ data on the electoral process.
“It is premature (at this time) to draw conclusions and make recommendations about the election process, although we’ve detected (only) ‘very tiny’ flaws,” he said.
“Once the elections are over, and knowing the mistakes, we’ll make the pertinent recommendations that can serve for the next elections,” Iturgaiz added.
On Feb. 9, the EU deployed a 28-member Election Observation Mission to El Salvador to monitor the campaign season and the elections themselves.
They are part of a group of 80 observers who will be sent to the Central American country from different EU nations and Norway, including jurists, diplomats, lawmakers and experienced election monitoring professionals.
Some 5.2 million Salvadorans are eligible to vote in the March elections, in which all 84 seats in the nation’s legislature and mayor’s offices in 262 municipalities nationwide will be up for grabs.
Next month’s balloting will be the ninth legislative and municipal elections since the signing of a peace deal that brought an end to El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war.