Country Learning

You are here: Home > El Salvador

South America

Argentina Bolivia
Brazil Chile
Colombia Ecuador
Guyana Paraguay
Peru Suriname
Uruguay Venezuela

North America

Antigua and Barbuda Bahamas
Barbados Belize
Canada Costa Rica
Cuba Dominica
El Salvador Dominican Republic
Grenada Guatemala
Haiti Honduras
Jamaica Mexico
Nicaragua Panama
St. Kitts St. Lucia
St. Vincent Trinidad and Tobago
United States


Australia Fiji
Kiribati Marshall Islands
Micronesia Nauru
New Zealand

El Salvador Political System

Political system

El Salvador is a republic with strong presidential power. Since the end of the civil war in 1992, politics has been dominated by the right-wing Arena and the former left-wing guerrilla FMLN. The country is characterized by violence, mainly criminal youth gangs, but the police are also behind. Corruption and impunity mean that confidence in the judiciary is low.

The 1983 Constitution provides that El Salvador should have a state of the art pattern from the United States with an executive, a legislative and a sentencing institution.

  • Countryaah: Total population and chart of El Salvador for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.

The executive is exercised by the president, who is elected in general elections for a five-year term. The president may not run for re-election directly, but may return after the absence of a term of office. For victory in the first round of elections, at least half of the votes are required, otherwise a second round will be held between the two candidates who received the most votes. The president is both head of state and government as well as commander-in-chief. For its part, the president has a vice president who, like the government, is appointed and dismissed by the president.

The legislative power has Parliament (asamblea nacional), whose 84 members are elected in general elections, according to a proportional electoral system, for a term of three years.

The president can veto approved bills, but the veto can be revoked if two-thirds of the members of the Assembly so demand. To amend the constitution, a proposal must be approved by Parliament for two consecutive terms of office. The voting age is 18 years.

El Salvador is divided into 14 regions. Each region is governed by a governor appointed by the president for three years at a time. The mayors of the country's 262 municipalities are elected in elections that are held at the same time as the parliamentary elections. Should parliamentary and local elections occur the same year as a presidential election, the parliamentary and local elections are held on a different day than the presidential election. Since 2014, Salvadoran citizens have been allowed to vote abroad in El Salvador elections.

Political System of El SalvadorPolitical parties

Politics is characterized by a strong polarization between right and left, where two parties have long dominated. In the 2019 presidential election, however, a candidate belonging to a third party (see below) prevailed.

The Left Party The Farabundo Martí for National Liberation Front (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, FMLN) was previously a guerrilla movement consisting of five guerrilla groups that joined forces in 1980 to make revolution (see Modern History). With the peace of 1992, the FMLN became a political party. During the period 2000–2005, the party had a majority in parliament, but on the other hand, none of FMLN's three presidential candidates succeeded in the 1994–2004 elections. It was very much because all three had a past in the guerrillas and that the electorate associated them with its hard line during the civil war. Prior to the 2009 election, the party instead appointed a popular TV journalist for its presidential candidate, and he won the election. In the 2014 elections, Vice President and former guerrilla commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén won.

The Republican National Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista, Arena) was founded in 1981 by Roberto d'Aubuisson, a former major educated in the United States. He and several of the party's early members were behind some of the death patrols that raged during the civil war. Arena had government power in 1989–2009. The party is closely linked to the business community and its association of private entrepreneurs' national association (Asociación Nacional de la Empresa Privada, Anep). The loss in the 2009 presidential election led to major internal conflicts.

A short time later, a number of MPs left the party. They later formed the Grand Alliance for National Unity (Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional, Ghana). Gana has been the third largest party in parliament since 2012 and, despite its background in Arena, has collaborated with FMLN in parliament. In the 2019 presidential election, Ghana's candidate Nayib Bukele already won the first round. Bukele has a background in the FMLN but now has to seek cooperation with Arena in Parliament to be able to pursue his politics (see further Current policy).

The arena could long lean towards the National Reconciliation Party (Partido de Conciliación Nacional, PCN), the military's old party from 1961. In the 2000s, however, it appeared that the PCN voted with the left. After a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2011, the party was forced to change its name to the National Consultation Party (Partido de Concertación Nacional, PCN). The conservative Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano, PDC) was also forced to change its name but was then able to regain its original name (see Calendar).



Funes on a historic visit to Cuba

President Funes makes a historic state visit to Cuba for three days. He is the first Salvadoran leader in 50 years to visit Cuba. During a meeting with Cuba's leader Raúl Castro, Funes says he "came to correct a historic mistake" and refers to El Salvador's broken diplomatic relations with the country after the 1959 revolution. Funes also criticizes the US trade embargo on Cuba.


Bus strike under gang threat

Following the bus attack in June (see June 2016), a law is adopted that makes it illegal to belong to any of the country's criminal youth gang, Maras. In an attempt to scare President Funes from approving the law, the two largest gangs - Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha - force the country's bus drivers to strike for 72 hours. The strike affects half the country's bus traffic.


16 dead after gang attack

At least 16 people are killed when the youth gang Maras 18 shoots and fires on a bus on the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador. The reason for the attack is unclear, but it is part of a growing wave of violent crimes committed by the criminal gangs.


Funes forms a national movement

In order to gather popular support for its policies, Funes forms the Citizens' Movement for Change, a movement for various groupings in society that want to support the government.


Splits between Funes and FMLN

The gap between Funes and FMLN is becoming clearer. Many in the party think that Funes does not pursue a sufficiently radical policy. When the party celebrates the one-year anniversary of its election victory, Funes does not participate.


The government is expanding cooperation with the military

The Government unveils a new security plan with increased cooperation between police and the military to curb the growing crime of violence. Among other things, the police will borrow guns from the military and use its barracks. The police also get better vehicles and IT equipment.

Country Learning Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved