Presidential elections were held in El Salvador on 20 February 1972. The result was a victory for Arturo Armando Molina of the Party of National Conciliation (PCN), who received 43.4% of the vote. However, the election was characterised by massive fraud. The PCN had faced a strong challenge from left- and right-wing opposition, and as a result had tried to rig the election by holding the presidential elections two weeks before the legislative election (which took place on 12 March) to ensure that if Molina failed to pass the 50% mark, the Legislative Assembly would still be under PCN control to approve him as president. Despite their attempts to stuff ballot boxes, it looked for a while as though José Napoleón Duarte of the opposition National Opposing Union (UNO, a coalition of the Christian Democratic PartyNational Revolutionary Movement and Nationalist Democratic Union) had been victorious after the Central Election Board in San Salvador issued a statement that Duarte had won by around 6,000 votes. However, this was followed by a three-day news blackout, after which a revised set of figures was announced giving a narrow victory to Molina, meaning that the Legislative Assembly (with a PCN majority) would choose the president. The opposition walked out of the vote, resulting in Molina being elected by 31 votes to zero.
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