El Salvador

Nationalist Republican Alliance

Published 6th February, 2012

The Nationalist Republican Alliance or ARENA was founded in 1981 by Roberto D’Aubuisson. It describes itself as right wing and believes in nationalism, conservatism, and neoliberalism.

The party quickly established itself as a political force, taking 19 of the 60 seats in the Legislative Assembly in the 1982 elections.

Roberto D’Aubuisson had been accused, that whilst he was a member of the notorious National Guard, of having ordered the assassination of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Archbishop of El Salvador. Despite this he stood for the presidential election in 1984 but was unsuccessful. The lingering accusations caused an eventual split in the party and subsequently D’Aubuisson stood down as party leader in 1985 and was given the honorific title of honorary life president (he died in 1992 of cancer).

Under the new leadership of Alfredo Cristiani Burkard the party presented a more moderate image and he won the 1988 presidential election. This was to lead to a run of ARENA presidents with Armando Calderón Sol winning in 1994, then Francisco Flores Pérez in 1999 and finally Antonio Saca in 2004. The run of success ended in 2009.

Similarly, the party did well in legislative elections, advancing on their 1982 success to take 39 of 84 Legislative Assembly seats in 1991 and again in 1994, their high point.

Since then, they have won 28 seats in 1997, 29 seats in 2000, 27 seats in 2003, 34 seats in 2006 and 32 seats in 2009. Currently they are in second place to the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front who have 35 seats and hold the presidency.

The Nationalist Republican Alliance is a member of the International Democrat Union and the Union of Latin American Parties.

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