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Publicado el 8 de Septiembre de 2011

id: 45114
date: 11/14/2005 23:00
refid: 05SANSALVADOR3215
origin: Embassy San Salvador
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 05SANSALVADOR1079
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2015
     B. SAN SALVADOR 1673
     C. SAN SALVADOR 1747
     D. SAN SALVADOR 1803
Classified By: DCM Michael A. Butler, Reason 1.4 (d)
1. (C)  SUMMARY:  On October 27, El Salvador's Supreme
Electoral Council (TSE) threw out some 12,000 invalid
signatures out of approximately 49,000 total signatures
obtained by the moderate FMLN splinter group Revolutionary
Democratic Front (FDR) in its efforts to obtain legal
recognition as a party.  FDR activists submitted additional
signatures November 3, but the TSE was unable to validate
sufficient signatures to qualify the party for official
status prior to a November 11 deadline, and the Legislative
Assembly declined to intervene in the matter.  Any FDR
participation in March 12 municipal and Legislative Assembly
elections must now be pursued via alliances with established
parties and coalition candidates.  Their absence from the
official slate may preserve FMLN incumbents' seats in races
where the FDR would otherwise have split the leftist vote.
2. (C)  The birth of the FDR had its roots in a continuing
process of disintegration within the FMLN during 2005.  In
its April 3 national convention, the FMLN passed a number of
"reforms" that included the virtual abolishment of open
primaries, and their replacement by a hardliner-controlled
process of "consensus" that lacked transparency (see ref. A).
 (Note:  These "reforms" further consolidated control of the
FMLN by orthodox hardliners, who had become locked in a
bitter internal struggle with moderates in the wake of
Schafik Handal's resounding defeat at the polls in March 2004
presidential elections.  End note.)  In June (see ref. B),
moderate Legislative Assembly Deputies Ileana Rogel and Jorge
Escobar, accompanied by moderate former TSE Magistrate Julio
Hernandez, Santa Ana Mayor Orlando Mena, and others, marched
to FMLN headquarters to tender their resignations from the
party.  Resignations before and since have left the FMLN with
only 24 of the 31 deputies with which it began the current
Legislative Assembly--no longer even sufficient to block
legislation requiring a two-thirds supermajority of 56 votes
(such as those regarding assumption of foreign debt, or
confirmation of officials such as the Attorney General).
3. (C)  On June 15, the FMLN dissidents who had resigned took
initial steps in the lengthy process of registering a new
party, the Revolutionary Democratic Front (FDR), submitting
its constitution, bylaws, and official logo to the TSE.  The
group's National Coordinator Julio Hernandez outlined that
the choice of name, once used by the FMLN's political wing
during the 1980-1992 conflict, was an effort to deflect
disparaging characterizations of FMLN moderates as "Leftist
Lite" (see ref. C).  The FDR then began collecting signatures
in support of its being granted official status; under
Article 159 of the Electoral Code, valid signatures must
total at least three percent of voter turnout in the most
recent (2003) municipal and Legislative Assembly elections,
or approximately 42,000 signatures.
4. (C)  On October 27, the TSE announced that it had found
nearly 12,000 of the 49,000 signatures submitted invalid,
leaving the FDR almost 5,000 signatures short of the required
42,000.  Some 1,752 names submitted featured nonexistent
national identity document (DUI) numbers; 1,274 names and DUI
numbers were duplicates; 316 had missing DUI numbers, and 239
names submitted differed from those on voter registration
lists.  An additional 6,387 signatures did not match those on
registration lists, while in 1,775 cases, either a signature
was missing from the FDR document, or a signature submitted
by the FDR corresponded to a voter (unable to read and write)
who had used a thumbprint on his/her voter registration, or
vice versa.  The FDR was given until November 11 to collect
sufficient signatures to offset these shortfalls.
4. (C)  In an October 25 meeting with poloff, Hernandez and
Rogel outlined what they characterized as an attempt at
political "blackmail" on the part of the ruling ARENA party,
which they alleged offered to "fix" things with the TSE in
exchange for the FDR's support in confirming incumbent
Attorney General Belisario Artigas for a second term--which
requires a two-thirds (56-vote) supermajority of the
Assembly's 84 seats.  (Note:  Having formed a loose
center-left coalition with others on June 22, the FDR and its
allies have pursued an independent course, allying themselves
with ARENA and the PCN when it suited their purposes.  The
FDR's key role has been in votes requiring a two-thirds
majority.  See ref. D.  End note.)
5. (C)  FDR officers announced November 1 that they had
already succeeded in gathering the required 5,000 signatures,
but that they would seek to submit a total of 8,000
additional signatures before the November 11 deadline in
order to make up for any invalidations during the rolls'
certification by the TSE.  (Note:  In the end, the FDR had
submitted a total of approximately 9,000 signatures by
November 3.  End note.)  On November 8, ARENA TSE President
Walter Araujo continued to speak of the "difficulty" of the
FDR's qualifying in time for the deadline, and on November 9
the FDR announced that it would seek legal status as a party
via a Legislative Assembly decree.  November 10 marked the
last day possible for new parties to be officially registered
prior to the formal opening of four-month campaign season,
and as the week drew to a close, it became clear that the
FDR's legal registration stood little chance.  ARENA, the
FMLN, PCN, and PDC indicated that they would not support any
move to grant legal status via Legislative Assembly decree,
and although the TSE had enlisted additional workers and
extended its hours of operation, it managed to certify only
3,200 of 9,088 signatures submitted prior to the deadline.
The Christian Social Populist Party, (PPSC, a PDC splinter
group), Salvadoran Workers Party (PTS), and Salvadoran
Patriotic Brotherhood (FPS) likewise failed to obtain
official status.
6. (C)  COMMENT:  To most political observers, it was clear
that FDR certification would have benefited ARENA in the
March 2006 national elections, by splitting a significant
number of potential voters from FMLN mayoral and deputy
candidates.  In fact, many predicted the presence of a strong
FDR candidate in San Salvador would have given the ARENA
candidate an excellent chance to take the city back after it
was held by the left for so many years.  This view, however,
was clearly not shared by Saca or his party's pundits, who
apparently calculated that the FDR could actually peel center
voters away from ARENA, and could pose a longer term threat
to ARENA.  It further appeared that Saca was frustrated by
futile negotiations with the FDR deputies over the
re-election of Artiga, and came to the conclusion that the
FDR was an even more difficult negotiating block in the
Assembly than the FMLN itself.  For its part, the FDR trusted
early on that it would be certified by the ARENA-controlled
TSE by virtue of the FDR's support for Artiga, and, as such,
did not go through the trouble of securing the full 42,000
legitimate signatures.  As a matter of fact, one FDR
strategist told Polcouns that they had basically copied
information from civil registry lists unto voter registration
forms because they felt, at that point, that the TSE would
not bother to go through the certification process. Had the
FDR done its work and gathered the signatures it needed, it
would have been virtually impossible for the TSE to deny them
their certification.  Now the FDR will have to try to survive
through coalition building.

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