Electoral officials in El Salvador are recounting the ballots in the presidential election after the losing candidate disputed the preliminary results, which indicted that former guerrilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren had won a majority of votes.
Several local newspapers had tipped left-wing candidate Sanchez Ceren, who claimed 50.11% of votes in the preliminary count, to win the election. His conservative rival Norman Quijano has also claimed victory, but the Sanchez Ceren appears confident of winning and has even invited his opponent to take on a role in his administration.
Once confirmed, the winner of the election will begin a five-year term on June 1. Reports say the new president will face a daunting task of reviving the sluggish economy and lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Democratic elections are crucial to attracting investment to the Central American country, which has one of the world’s highest murder rates, largely blamed on the street gangs known as maras. A former mayor of San Salvador, Quijano is famed for having clamped down on these street gangs in the Salvadorian capital.
El Salvador is home to a growing outsourcing sector comprised of approximately 12,500 workers. Industry heavyweights like Teleperformance, Atento and Stream all have operations in the country.
El Salvador’s rapid BPO expansion owes much to its wealth of English speakers, boosted in recent years by migrants returning from the United States, where over a quarter of El Salvadorians live. The bilingual labor pool has also been aided by training programs such as “Access to Employment,” a joint project between El Salvador and USAID that includes intensive English training for 5,000 students and workers.