El Salvador Government and Politics

The 1983 Constitution states that El Salvador is a unified state, democratic and presidential republic. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of SV and its meanings of El Salvador. The president must stand for a party, be elected to the general election for five years and cannot be re-elected. If one candidate does not get an absolute majority in the first ballot, the two who got the most votes go on to a second ballot. The president is the head of state and head of government and is responsible for the preparation of budget and legislative proposals. He also oversees foreign policy and is responsible for organizing and leading the defense and security forces.

El Salvador Country Flag

Reference: El Salvador Flag Meaning

The National Assembly, called Asamblea Legislativa, the Legislative Assembly, has 84 members elected through universal suffrage for three years at a time. This is how presidential and parliamentary elections coincide every fifteen years (1994, 2009, 2024 and so on). The voting age is 18 years. As of 2013, Salvadoran citizens abroad also have the opportunity to cast their votes.

According to AllCityCodes.com, the 1992 peace agreements complement the Constitution by establishing an electoral council (Tribunal Supremo Electora l) with rank as its own state power. The peace agreements also authorize the country’s human rights commission and a national police force, created by merging three former law enforcement forces as well as parts of the rebel forces to the FMLN.

The parties

The Constitution states that sovereignty rests in the people and that the political parties are the only channel for expressing its will. While El Salvador, until the civil war in 1979–1991, was characterized by constant bargaining and extensive military intervention in politics, the country’s post-peace policy has been dominated by two large, firmly rooted parties with roots in the parties to the conflict. ARENA represents the right-hand side and was formed by some extreme right-wing groups; The FMLN represents the left and became as a legalization (through the peace agreements) of an alliance of both very radical and more moderate forces.

ARENA won all the presidential elections from 1994 to 2009, since FMLN has won. However, neither major has had a majority alone in the National Assembly, but has had to seek support from the old parties from before the war – the Christian Democratic PDC and the Conservative PCN – or at newer parties formed by the shelling of ARENA and the FMLN.

With their strong appliances, the parties in El Salvador are more stable than elsewhere in the region. On the other hand, El Salvador is considered to have Latin America’s most polarized National Assembly with stagnation as a result. Alongside the party apparatus, certain groups still hold great power, such as the officer corps, property and business owners, trade unions and denominations. Moreover, the extensive crime is a significant challenge for the Salvadoran state powers.


Administratively, El Salvador is divided into 14 provinces (departamentos) and 262 municipalities (municipios). The president appoints governors to govern the provinces, every three years the municipalities elect a mayor and a number of councilors based on the municipality’s population. Municipalities do not have independent taxation rights. The budgets are allocated on the basis of a sack item on the national budget so that the government (the president) has great power in local politics as well.


The judiciary comprises a Supreme Court with four chambers, 201 first instance courts, 322 peace courts (for misdemeanors and disputes) and 26 appellate courts. The Supreme Court’s 15 magistrates are appointed by the National Assembly by two-thirds majority and for nine years at a time so that five new ones are elected every three years.

The Supreme Court’s First Chamber tries the law’s compatibility with the Constitution. Since the judges are appointed by the National Assembly, the courts have traditionally been vulnerable to political influence and it was a requirement in the 1992 peace agreement that the entire Supreme Court should be replaced. However, this happened only in 1994, after the government granted amnesty to the belligerent parties. However, on the basis of the peace agreements, the Judicial Council (Consejo Nacional de la Judicatura) was made into an independent body to screen the candidates for the judiciary and monitor their office.

El Salvador’s national anthem

The national anthem is Saludemos la Patria orgullosos (‘Let us proudly pay homage to the Fatherland’) with lyrics by Juan José Cañas and melody by Juan Aberle. It was written in 1879 and accepted as a national anthem in 1953.

El Salvador’s defense

El Salvador has a public service obligation for men from the age of 18 with one year of service after selection. The total strength of El Salvador’s armed forces is 24,500 active personnel, with a reserve of 9900 personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, there are 17,000 semi-military national police forces.


The army has a strength of 20,500 active personnel. Materials include five lorries and 38 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army has light artillery and air defense artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a strength of 2000 active personnel. Material comprising 14 attack aircraft of the type A-37B Dragonfly, 11 armed reconnaissance, 10 facilitate transport, 11 trainers, and 28 helicopters.

The Navy

The Navy has a force of 2,000 active personnel, including 90 personnel in a naval infantry. The fleet comprises 10 patrol vessels, and four landings.

International operations

El Salvador participated in the UN operations in Mali (MINUSMA) with 156 personnel in 2018, and in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 52 personnel, and with observers and a small number of personnel in the UN operations in Sudan (UNISFA), in South Sudan (UNMISS), and in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Presidents of El Salvador

Presidents of El Salvador since 1931.

Period President
1931-1944 Maximiliano Hernandez Martínez
1944-1945 Osmín Aguirre
1945-1948 Salvador Castañeda
1948-1949 Manuel Córdoba
1949-1950 Óscar Bolaños
1950-1956 Óscar Osorio
1956-1960 José Lemus
1960-1962 military junta
1962-1967 Julio Rivera
1967-1972 Fidel Sáncez
1972-1977 Arturo Molina
1977-1979 Carlos Romero
1979-1980 military junta
1980-1982 José Napoleón Duarte
1982-1984 Álvaro Magaña
1984-1989 José Napoleón Duarte
1989-1994 Alfredo Cristiani
1994-1999 Armando Calderón Sol
1999-2004 Francisco Guillermo Flores Pérez
2004-2009 Elías Antonio Saca González
2009-2014 Mauricio Funes
2014- Salvador Sánchez Cerén

El Salvador Head of Government

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