The March 2009 election of Mauricio Funes and the broad coalition of social and political forces that supported his candidacy inspired the Salvadoran people and heralded a new era in the history of the smallest country in
Today, his country and party are changing, but President Funes continues to face challenges from the Left as well as the extreme Right. Business and conservative sectors do not trust him. In attempting to win their confidence, President Funes has reached out to conservative party leaders and business representatives. He appointed an economic cabinet with representatives from the financial sector to prove and honor his campaign promise to respect the free market. Like a good pupil, he is following and implementing the policy recommendations of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank. On the other hand, President Funes faces criticism from the Left for supporting the Centro Democrático Unido (CDU) party and the emerging political movement Amigos de Mauricio that is based on the coalition of independent parties that backed him in last year’s election. The Left sees reaching out to moderate parties as a threat to the FMLN’s social base in the 2012 parliamentary and municipal elections. More sophisticated, less polarized analysts believe that President Funes is strengthening a centrist movement to protect himself from both the Right and the Left.
Félix Ulloa is President of the Instituto de Estudios Jurídicos de El Salvador and is a former member of the Electoral Supreme Tribunal of El Salvador. He was previously the National Democratic Institute’s Senior Country Director in Haiti and Morocco.