Electoral/Political Party Reform: Chapultepec Peace Agreement

MEXICO AGREEMENT (27 April 1991)

The Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (hereinafter referred to as "the Parties"),

Considering that various points on which agreement has been reached can be put into practice through secondary legislation or through further political agreements elaborating on the Constitution;
Have reached the agreements summarized below, which comprise constitutional reforms and issues referred to secondary legislation, as well as other political agreements:

III. Electoral System

1. Agreements on constitutional reforms aimed at:

(a) The establishment of a Supreme Electoral Tribunal to replace the Central Board of Elections. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall be the highest administrative authority and jurisdiction with respect to electoral matters. It has been agreed that the composition of the Tribunal shall be determined by secondary legislation, making sure that no party or coalition of parties predominates it. It has also been agreed that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall include members without any party affiliation, elected by a qualified majority of the Legislative Assembly.

(b) It has also been agreed that legally registered political parties shall have the right to monitor the compilation, organisation, publication and updating of the electoral roll.

2. Other issues raised in the negotiations were referred to secondary legislation and to other political agreements. Although the set of political agreements on the electoral system envisaged by the Parties in the Caracas Agenda has still to be negotiated, the following agreements have been reached during the current round:

(a) The electoral roll shall be compiled in such a way that the lists of citizens eligible to vote are published at least 20 days before the date of the election. A simple and expeditious procedure shall be established for making legitimate corrections requested by any interested party.

(b) Within 60 days after the establishment of the new Supreme Electoral Tribunal, a Special Commission presided over by the Tribunal and composed of representatives of all legally registered parties and, possibly, independent experts shall be established to prepare a comprehensive proposal for reform of the electoral system.
Political agreements elaborating on the constitutional reform
With a view to elaborating on some of the aspects which the agreed constitutional reform refers to secondary legislation, the Parties have agreed to the following:

B. Electoral system

1. The electoral roll shall be compiled in such a way that the lists of citizens eligible to vote are published at least 20 days before the date of the election. A simple and expeditious procedure shall be established for making legitimate corrections requested by any interested party. 2. Within 60 days after the establishment of the new Supreme Electoral Tribunal, a Special Commission presided over by the Tribunal and composed of representatives of all legally registered parties and, possibly, independent experts shall be established to prepare a comprehensive proposal for reform of the electoral system, to be completed and submitted to the Legislative Assembly within 120 days of the Commission's establishment. The Special Commission shall in any case be set up at least two years before the next legislative elections, and the Assembly shall vote on the proposed reforms at least one year before the date of those elections.

Chapultepec Agreement (16 January 1992)

Chapter IV: Electoral System

The parties reaffirm their commitment, made in the Mexico Agreements, to promote a comprehensive proposal for reform of the electoral system. To that end, they request COPAZ to appoint the Special Commission envisaged for that purpose in the Mexico Agreements. That Commission shall study the preliminary draft amendments to the Electoral Code Submitted to the Legislative Assembly by the Central Board of Election, as well as any proposals put forward by its members or by independent experts invited for that purpose. The Special Commission shall organize its work in such a way that the results can be used within the time-limits set for the reform of the electoral system.

Chapter VI: Political Participation by FMLN

The following agreements have been reached concerning political participation by FMLN, and shall be subject to the implementation timetable contained in this Agreement:

5. Cessation of the armed conflict implies the commitment and the right of FMLN to full political participation, without any restrictions other than those deriving from the new institutional and legal framework established by the agreements reached during the negotiations.

6. Legalization of FMLN as a political party, through the adoption of a legislative decree to that end.

7. Guarantee that FMLN will be able to conduct its activities normally when it becomes a political party, meaning:

a. Freedom to canvass for new members;

b. The right to set up an appropriate infrastructure (premises, printing works, etc.);

c. Free exercise of the right of assembly and mobilization for FMLN leaders, activists and members;

d. Freedom for FMLN to purchase and use advertising space in the mass media.

8. Legal solution to the participation of FMLN members in COPAZ, once the latter formalizes its existence.

Implementation History

1992

Intermediate Implementation

The accord called for several institutional requirements necessary to have free and fair elections. The Legislative Assembly appointed the Special Electoral Tribunal in 1992 after some delays. COPAZ appointed the Special Commission which was governed by the Tribunal. The Government put forth legislation to establish the FMLN as a political party.1 The Parties subsequently reached a negotiated agreement to propose legislation to facilitate the legalization of the FMLN as a political party by 30 June 1992.2 However, the FMLN did not gain permission to formally begin the process of becoming a political party until 30 July 1992. Full recognition as a party was hindered by the delays in the DDR process as a whole.3 The FMLN was ultimately legalized as a political party on 14 December 1992, in coordination with the formal cessation of armed conflict on 15 December 1992.4

  • 1. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/23999), May 26, 1992.
  • 2. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/23999/Add.1), June 16, 1992.
  • 3. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/24833), November 23, 1992; (S/23999), May 26, 1992.
  • 4. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL),” United Nations Security Council (S/25006), December 23, 1992.
1993

Intermediate Implementation

Elections were scheduled for March 1994 and the Government of El Salvador requested UN observers for those first elections. ONUSAL began making preparations shortly after, working in coordination with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.5

The institutional framework for the election process was established, and parties prepared candidates. The major concern was low levels of voter registration.6 After concerted effort by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, 787,834 Salvadorians registered to vote by the year’s end—a success in the judgment of ONUSAL.7 A Board of Vigilance composed of representatives of all the political parties was created to advise citizens on problems they encountered in getting voter registration cards.8

  • 5. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/25812), May 21, 1993.
  • 6. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/26606), October 20, 1993.
  • 7. “Tenth report of the Director of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations General Assembly / Security Council (A/49/116 S/1994/385), April 5, 1994).
  • 8. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/179), February 16, 1994.
1994

Full Implementation

The deadline for voter registration was extended to 19 January 1994, by which time a total of 2,653,871 persons had been registered. The deadline for registering candidates for lower offices was extended to 31 January 1994. Many discrepancies persisted in the registration records, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal did not meet the deadline for issuing registration cards after the push to register as many voters as possible. The Attorney-General of the Republic selected an Electoral Counsel in January 1994 to address complaints about the electoral process. 9 By 16 March 1994, more than 74,000 persons requesting voter registration cards still had not received them due to insufficient documentation.10

The elections occurred on 20 March 1994 without any significant scandals or disruptions, and ONUSAL considered them acceptable. Approximately 1.5 million voters participated, amounting to roughly 55% of registered voters, which was lower than expected. No one presidential candidate received a majority, which forced a run-off election.11 The Electoral Division made many corrective recommendations to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to be implemented before the second round of elections on 24 April 1994. The Tribunal made several improvements, satisfying the Electoral Division. The second round, like the first, occurred with nothing more than some minor irregularities. About 1.2 million valid votes were counted, and Armando Calderon Sol, the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) candidate, was elected president with 68% of the votes. While approving of the elections, the Electoral Division still called for “a thorough reform of the electoral system.”12

A new Supreme Electoral Tribunal was elected on 30 July 1994.13

  • 9. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/179), February 16, 1994.
  • 10. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/304), March 16, 1994.
  • 11. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/375), March 31, 1994.
  • 12. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/536), May 4, 1994.
  • 13. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/1000), August 26, 1994.
1995

Full Implementation

No further electoral reforms took place as provided for by the accord.

1996

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1997

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1998

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.