Friday, April 02, 2004

Electoral observations (3): Bill Barnes

"Thanks to Tommie Sue for a fine commentary. This is the kind of frankness we -- and the FMLN -- need. This election was eminently winnable for the left, at least up until the ortodoxos forced Hector Silva out of the FMLN a year and a half ago -- and maybe after that if they had agreed to Mauricio Funes' conditions for accepting the nomination (polls showed Funes' ten times more popular than Schafik, and it seems likely he would have been a great campaigner; whether he would have been a good president is another question).

For another excellent, realistic analysis of Salvador election dynamics (why FMLN sympathizers in Perquin and Soyapango voted for Calderon Sol for president), go back to the piece on the 1994 elections by Liesl Haas and Gina Perez in the Fall 1994 LASA Forum. It still applies. Anyone in touch with reality knew what kind of campaign Schafik's candidacy would draw from ARENA and knew that Schafik could not win. No legitimate poll ever showed it close -- no one who knows anything about election polling and who looked at how the UES and Gavidia polls were done could take them seriously.

The polls done for the FMLN by an able Guatemalan pollster always showed Saca well ahead, as did IUDOP. The response of the Political Commission was to fire the Guatemalan pollster and to condemn IUDOP and UCA as having sold out to ARENA. Their conduct of the campaign (including barring previous campaign managers from any independent decision-making), and their post-election conduct, shows that the ortodoxos -- smart as Schafik and Leonel are in some ways -- have learned nothing in ten years."

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