Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Commenting on Dean Brackley's analysis

Here's a comment on Dean Brackley's post from last night, from Paolo Luers, who recently began writing an interesting weekly column in El Faro on matters related to the press. (This week's column takes to task the influential television news host, Mauricio Funes, for coming out with "exit polls" on Sunday favoring the FMLN that were rife with statistical errors. That move was a serious error by Funes, and caused quite a stir for several hours):

Very interesting pinpointing the difference between "awakening" and the shift of voters to ARENA out of fear. I think you have a point there.

But I have two serious doubts. 1) I wouldn´t call this long-term shift to the opposition an "awakening." Too deterministic. As if there is only one truth and it is only a question of time that people wake up to it…. But I agree, there is a long-term shift toward those who press for social reforms. Which is sort of unavoidable after 15 years of neo-liberal reforms….

2) You are also right about the factor of fear being the driving factor behind the short-term support for ARENA. But then fear is always one of the most important factors in elections. Fear for your work place, fear for the future of health care and your pension fund, etc., will be decisive in elections in Germany and El Salvador alike. If you run for president and don't offer answers to those fears, you loose. Here and anywhere. And if you offer answers which increase those fears, you loose big….

And then: Schafik Handal didn´t need all this big anti-communist campaign to scare people. He does that all by himself.

I agree with the conclusion: "So, I expect the left and center-left will continue to do well, and even advance". There is that possibility. There is that chance. There is that challenge. Challenge, because it´s certainly not going to be automatically so. Only if the left stops scaring people with irresponsible populist demands and starts offering real solutions to the problems that generate fears.

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