FMLN's election success
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) became the largest party in El Salvador's National Assembly, and hence the country's dominant political force, in elections on March 12. With over 30 seats, the FMLN easily outperformed the former ruling party, the right-wing pro-business National Republican Alliance (ARENA). The FMLN also doubled its number of mayoral posts, including retaining the key position of mayor of the capital, San Salvador. The San Salvador contest, widely seen as a stepping stone to the Presidency, was resoundingly won by the incumbent, the FMLN's Dr Hector Silva. Dr Silva's first post-election comments centred on improving the living standards of the people. The FMLN fought a 12-year liberation war against a corrupt US-backed dictatorship that was kept in place by US arms and right-wing death squads. In 1992, after the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union, the FMLN accepted a UN-brokered peace deal. The subsequent UN-supervised elections however gave the advantage to the parties with the most money and the control of the media. ARENA, despite its links to the former death squads, won the elections and has pursued a neo-liberal (economic rationalist) policy that has increased poverty enormously. ARENA campaigned on a "get tough on crime" platform, while the FMLN proposed new social programs aimed at alleviating poverty, and hence reducing crime.