El Salvador Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren neared the 50 percent threshold needed to win today’s presidential election outright, according to preliminary results published by the country’s electoral tribunal.
With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Sanchez Ceren has 49 percent support compared with 39 percent for ex-San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano, according to the Central American nation’s electoral tribunal. If no one gets 50 percent of the votes, the top two candidates go to a March 9 runoff.
A former rebel leader for the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the 69-year-old Sanchez Ceren is seeking to extend his party’s rule after it won the presidency for the first time in 2009 under Mauricio Funes. Pre-election polls had been split on which candidate would get the most votes, with no candidate getting more than 50 percent in the first round.
Ahead of the election, voters said security was their top concern, two years after Funes backed a truce with street gangs which have made the Central American nation the world’s most violent after Honduras, according to the United Nations. Quijano vowed to stop “tolerating” criminals while Sanchez Ceren said he would promote prevention and education in the fight against crime, without addressing the truce directly.
The country’s dollar bonds rallied after the 2012 truce was put in place, with yields on the 2023 notes falling to a record 4.9 percent in May 2013. Yields have since climbed to about 6.8 percent as economic growth remains flat, reserves decline and the current account deficit widened to about $450 million in the third quarter, the most since at least 1999.
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