El Salvador Table of Contents
Government: Under 1983 Constitution, elected representative government divided into three branches. President, vice president, and Council of Ministers (cabinet) comprise executive branch. President directly elected for five-year term and may not be reelected; also serves as constitutional commander in chief of armed forces. Unicameral, sixty-member Legislative Assembly constitutes legislative branch. Judicial branch headed by Supreme Court of Justice; below Supreme Court are chambers of second instance, courts of first instance, and justice of the peace courts. Magistrates appointed by Legislative Assembly to fixed terms. Governors of departments (states) appointed by president; mayors and municipal council members directly elected. Military exerts political influence, particularly on issues relating to national security, but active-duty military personnel constitutionally prohibited from seeking office.
Politics: Long characterized by military rule supporting dominance of economic elite, in late 1980s political system still adapting to demands for free elections, representative democracy, and more open public discourse. Civil conflict between government forces and Marxist guerrillas greatly exacerbated political polarization rooted in historical dichotomy between wealthy elite and impoverished and excluded majority. In late 1980s, the two major political parties were the moderate, center-left Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristiano--PDC) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista--Arena). As of late 1988, PDC held presidency, but Arena had one-seat majority in Legislative Assembly.
International Relations: Mainly limited to Central American region until 1980s, when civil conflict made El Salvador focus of international attention. Relations with United States became increasingly important during 1980s because of critical contribution of United States economic and military aid to survival of elected government, bolstering of war-ravaged economy, and improved performance of armed forces. Government of Jose Napoleon Duarte Fuentes participated actively in Contadora process, a joint Latin American mediating effort seeking to ease Central American tensions through diplomatic negotiations. Duarte signed Central American Peace Agreement, product of unmediated talks among the Central American states, in August 1987.
International Agreements and Membership: Party to Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance Central American Common Market, (Rio Treaty). Also member of Organization of American States, United Nations, and several of its specialized agencies: World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and InterAmerican Development Bank.
Data as of November 1988