Sunday, March 28, 2004

Reconfiguring the left

The cover of Vértice today (above, portraying a shattered Schafik Handal) is better than the accompanying articles, which mainly focus on the internal dynamic within the FMLN, but the analysis offered by La Prensa Gráfica's Sunday magazine, entitled "Does the 'New Left' Exist?" is definitely worth a look.

LPG's analysis takes as a point of departure the response of several illustrious -- but non-FMLN -- leftists: Ruben Zamora, Hector Silva, Roberto Turcios, Dagoberto Gutiérrez, Facundo Guardado and Roberto Rubio. Interestingly, it is clear to Hector Silva that any left alternative to ARENA will not happen through the FMLN: he's tried it, and everyone else who's tried it will fail. But Joaquín Villalobos --not really an important political actor anymore, but often an astute analyst-- notes that it's only the FMLN that has a real base of activists, and that any future for the left thus depends on reform with the FMLN, such that future left alliances are more feasible.

The news today, however, was that Oscar Ortiz et al. appear not to have gained support this weekend in the departmental assemblies of the FMLN for moving up the internal elections from November to September (Ortiz had originally asked for June), or for the immediate resignation of the Political Commission. This could be due more to the Orthodox wing's control of the party structure than any real lack of support for Ortiz and reformists, which they seem to have in many quarters.

Meanwhile, Hector Silva and Ana Cristina Sol launched a "public convocation" to all interested forces to form a new "democratic left" movement. By doing so, he's implicitly recognized one of the weaknesses of his campaign--that of a fuzzy indefinition of the center, neither right nor left, "ni chicha ni limonada." The CDU and PDC are undergoing their own internal battles, and it's too soon to tell whether anything will come of this. Will Silva's resounding defeat in these elections affect his political future? Too soon to tell, but I wouldn't rule him out just yet.

A key question: what will the newer generation of the FMLN do several months from now if they appear to get nowhere in trying to reform the party?

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