Youth-vote set to influence El Salvador’s municipal and legislative elections

Youth-vote set to influence El Salvador’s municipal and legislative elections

Election season begins in El Salvador today, with legislative and municipal elections that look like a bellwether for presidential elections

elections_observer

Photo: CISPES

Election season begins in El Salvador today, with legislative and municipal elections that look like a bellwether for presidential elections later this year. Escalating violence in the country, a deteriorating security situation between the state and armed groups and a deeply unpopular political system will be the key issues for voters.

Since the breakdown of a state-sponsored truce between gangs and other armed groups in 2013, the security situation in El Salvador has degenerated with a large increase in extra-judicial killings by state forces. The UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial or Arbitrary Killings has criticised the government for failing to halt state-sponsored killings and civilian causalities. The figures have surged from 11 in 2010 to over 600 in 2016, leading to intense criticism at home and abroad over what some see as a state-led program of violence. Additionally, El Salvador’s ruling coalition faces increasingly high disapproval ratings of 75% or more, especially with the youth, with calls for a generational shift in the country’s political leadership.

Today’s elections look set to inject significant change into the political system. A rapidly shifting electorate and long-standing security issues will shape elections in the coming year.

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