Will any one be able to govern El Salvador after this election?
El Salvador, that beautiful small nation in Central America, just had elections and it is too close to call to say the least. The BBC has the latest update and "close" is right:
"A vote recount is under way in El Salvador, where the electoral authorities said the presidential election was too close to call.
Preliminary results suggest left-wing candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren has a lead of 0.22 percentage points over his conservative rival Norman Quijano.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal asked the candidates to refrain from claiming victory, which both had done on Sunday.
El Salvador remains deeply divided 22 years after the end of its civil war. Supreme Electoral Tribunal president Eugenio Chicas said there were "discrepancies" in the tallies of 14 ballot boxes, which will be reviewed.
"El Salvador will be an example of transparency. We will give the people the legitimacy it demands from these elections by recounting every single vote," said Mr Chicas. He said it could take until Thursday to confirm the official results."
It's hard to see how El Salvador can be governed after this election.
We are not just witnessing a close election but an ideological rift that will take a lot to heal. In other words, the left hates the right and the right hates the left.
The left candidate, Mr Sanchez-Cherren, is a former guerilla fighter. The right candidate is Mr Quijano of the very conservative ARENA party. (Some of the readers may remember the ARENA party during the 1980s civil war.)
The LA Times reports that there is a 6,367 vote difference!
The key to the election may be "el vote del norte", or the El Salvador citizens who live in the US. They will vote for the first time in a presidential election, according to AS/COA:
"In January 2013, the country passed the Special Law for the Exercise of Voting from Abroad in Presidential Elections, which allows expat residents to submit a ballot by mail. To register, voters must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid identification, and have a physical address abroad.
The new electoral law could afford emigrants—particularly in the United States—greater political clout, given their large contributions to El Salvador’s economy through remittances, which represent 16.5 percent of the Central American country’s GDP.
According to the Central Bank, Salvadorans sent almost $4 billion home last year—a 1.5 percent increase from 2012.
Around 3 million Salvadorans live outside the country, of which 2.5 million live in the United States.
With over 400,000 Salvadoran residents, Los Angeles, California is home to the largest expat population.
But only a few weeks ahead of the vote, the electoral tribunal reported delays of at least 4,000 electoral packages that have not yet been mailed to recipients in the United States.
Other residents faced issues mailing votes from postal offices in Canada.
Out of the 250,000 expatriates expected to vote this year, only 10,000 registered. La Prensa Grafica reported that, as of January 23, the electoral agency received over 1,800 expat votes."
As we saw in the Gore-Bush election, these recounts tend to divide people rather than unite them.
My question is simple: Which one of these two men will do the right thing and accept defeat? Which one will tell his supporters to respect the results and support the new president?
I don't know the answer.
I do know that El Salvador will continue fighting itself politically and will have trouble keeping drug cartels out of the country.
P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.