President Bukele Seeks Controversial Re-election Bid Despite Constitutional Constraints
President Nayib Bukele was chosen by the political party Nuevas Ideas in El Salvador as their candidate for the impending 2024 early presidential elections. Bukele’s bid, however, has drawn criticism since it deviates from the nation’s constitution, which forbids the president from serving consecutive terms. The backdrop of this problematic situation is explored in this article, including the constitutional limitations, the court’s decision, the condemnation from rights groups and the US, Bukele’s popular backing, and his contested strategy for reducing gang violence in El Salvador.
In June 2019, Nayib Bukele, a 41-year-old former businessman now in politics, took office, ending a 30-year bipartisanship between the right-wing ARENA and left-wing FMLN parties. Bukele declared his intention to run for reelection in September of the following year despite the stated prohibition on successive presidential mandates in the constitution.
Bukele was granted the right to run for reelection in 2021 by El Salvador’s highest court, whose members were chosen by a Congress that was under the leadership of Nuevas Ideas. This choice drew strong criticism from both domestic and foreign sources. According to critics, it compromises democratic principles and consolidates authority in the hands of one person, perhaps creating a risky precedent for the nation’s political future.
Several rights organisations disapproved of the court’s decision, alleging possible abuses of democratic values and the demise of checks and balances. The decision was denounced by the United States, an important trade partner and ally of El Salvador, as indicative of a more comprehensive erosion of democratic values in the nation.
Despite the turmoil surrounding his reelection campaign, Nayib Bukele is remarkably well-liked in El Salvador. According to recent polls, around 70% of people support his candidature for president in 2024. He was undoubtedly nominated without opposition in the internal elections of the Nuevas Ideas party due to this tremendous support.
Through its challenging strategy to curb gang violence, which resulted in the arrest of nearly 66,000 people, Bukele’s administration has grown in popularity. Human rights organisations, however, have criticised this strategy, alleging potential human rights breaches and government involvement in talks with criminal organisations. While pointing out that covert conversations with gangs have been a rather frequent practice in El Salvador, Bukele has constantly refuted these accusations.
President Bukele and Vice President Felix Ulloa must register with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to formally declare their candidature. The president, vice president, and lawmakers for the 2024–2029 term will be chosen in the forthcoming elections, which are set for February 4, 2024.
The fact that Nayib Bukele is running for reelection against the constitution’s prohibition on repeated terms in office has stirred up much debate inside and outside of El Salvador. While Bukele continues to have substantial public support, the court’s decision to approve his bid has come under fire for potentially weakening democratic standards. The political atmosphere in El Salvador will indeed be characterised by fiery discussions on the prospects for the nation’s democracy and the implications of Bukele’s candidature as the election date approaches.