The murder is a tragic irony for the Funes family, which preferred the relative calm of
Funes ran in El Salvador’s March 15, 2009, election as the candidate for the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), a former guerrilla organization that transformed itself into a socialist political party after its demobilization. He won the presidency in part due to his pledge to cut crime and increase security. He will be inaugurated on June 1.
On both the left and the right a lot has been made of Mauricio Funes’ victory in the March 15 presidential elections in El Salvador. Those on the left say this is yet another vindication of the failure of the neo-liberal model—another in a string of left-leaning leaders that have come to power through the ballot box. On the right, observers see this as a sign that the 1980s sky is falling—the nemesis of the Reagan administration now occupies the presidential palace.
Truth is, quite frankly, it’s neither. This isn’t the outsider politics of recent memory. First, let’s take a close look at who the candidate is and the evidence of the FMLN’s evolution. First, Funes. The man, an outsider to his party, is hardly a firebrand revolutionary. The former TV journalist is not the camouflage-wearing, bush-trained guerrilla of the FMLN past. Nor for that matter does he fit the pattern of the other outsider candidates that some want to equate him with. He’s not a former military officer (either official or out of the bush) like President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela; he’s not a political newbie, academic like Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa; he’s not a full-time provocateur/protester like Bolivian President Evo Morales; and he’s not a career, unrepentant revolutionary (and accused child molester) like Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. (And full disclosure, I don’t believe necessarily that Correa or Morales are as radical as the others. While their career trajectory has been unorthodox, they represent the dysfunctionality of the party systems that preceded them, more than a hard ideological turn one way or the other.)
Funes on the other hand is a professional; a polished politician who preaches moderation. Immediately after the election he called for moderation and reconciliation. His slogan. “a safe change,” is positively Obama-esque.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.