El Salvador Supreme Court disbands two parties

Two conservative parties that dominated politics in El Salvador from the 1960s to the late 1980s have been disbanded by the Supreme Court.

The court said neither the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) or the National Conciliation Party (NCP) had won the minimum level of votes required in the 2004 presidential election.

Therefore they would cease to exist once the terms of office of their mayors and legislators ended.

A 2005 decree that allowed the parties to carry on despite not having met the 3% threshold was declared unconstitutional by the court.

Leaders of both parties denounced the ruling but cannot appeal against it.

The court's decision does not necessarily mean that the two parties won't be able to take part in Salvador's politics.

But they will be expected to meet the same conditions as other parties before they can register their candidates for local and congressional elections in 2012. One condition is that they must have at least 5,000 members.

The National Conciliation Party was founded in 1961 and was closely associated with the country's military.

It soon became El Salvador's most powerful party and won the presidential elections in 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1977.

These last two polls were marred by allegations of vote rigging and in 1979, a military coup put an end to the party's governments. The NCP now has 10 representatives.

The Christian Democratic Party was founded in 1960. It dominated the centre of the political spectrum and one of its leaders, Jose Napoleon Duarte, was president from 1984 until 1989. It has now two representatives.

In the 1990s both parties declined in influence but continued to exist, often siding with other parties in order to exert influence in government.

El Salvador is currently governed by the leftist former guerrilla group Farabundo Marti Liberation Front. Its main rival is the conservative National Republican Alliance.

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