SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador’s legislative and municipal election preparations are being closely monitored by members of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, who are verifying that the balloting is carried out according to law, observer Gloria Sierra told EFE.
Along with her mission companion Michal Nobis, Sierra travels to various municipalities in San Salvador province to meet with assorted officials comprising the country’s political and social fabric to gather data for the Mission’s final report, a document that is designed to help reflect the country’s democratic health.
With “absolute impartiality,” the observers’ workdays consist of following an agenda full of meetings and visits to key sites in the process leading up to the March 4 municipal and legislative elections.
Sierra, a Dane, and Nobis, from Poland, get started early in the morning and on Wednesday were meeting with representatives of the Municipal Election Board and the Mayor’s Office in San Martin, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the capital, later heading for the nearby town of Soyapango, an area particularly hard-hit by gang violence.
That violence often prevents observers from going as far as they might like to visit precincts, since they are under strict orders not to venture into zones where their lives or health could be endangered.
However, in San Martin, they were able to meet with local officials at a high school where ballot boxes will be set up next Sunday.
During the meeting the two observers took extensive notes, writing down all the suggestions made by the local officials, which will later be incorporated into the final report on the campaign and balloting.
Twenty-six other EU observers are deployed throughout the country’s 13 other provinces to monitor the candidates’ access to the media and to ensure that the universal rights of freedom of expression and assembly are preserved both during the campaign and on election day.
The observers never, however, taken an “active” role in election-related activities, as Sierra and Nobis consistently remarked, and if violent or other serious incidents occur their protocol is to inform the central observer office, take down information and monitor the incident, both during and afterwards, but “never” to intervene.
On the Thursday prior to election day, 52 additional observers will be deployed throughout El Salvador.
Some 5.2 million Salvadorans are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections to select 84 national lawmakers and 262 mayors.