Salvadorans Cast Their Vote as Bukele Aims for a Second Term

Salvadorans Celebrate Nayib Bukele’s Expected Reelection as President

Salvadorans Celebrate Nayib Bukele’s Expected Reelection as President

Record-Breaking Support for Nayib Bukele

Salvadorans gathered in the heart of San Salvador on Sunday evening to celebrate the anticipated reelection of Nayib Bukele as president, even before any official results were announced. With soaring approval ratings and virtually no competition, Bukele was on track for a second 5-year term as president. After casting his vote, he confidently proclaimed that the election’s results would serve as a “referendum” on his administration’s success.

Early Victory Announced

Just two hours after the polling places closed, Bukele confidently declared on the platform X that, “according to our numbers,” he had won the election. Standing on the balcony of the National Palace, he addressed thousands of his supporters, stating that despite only having partial, preliminary results, the country had made history. Bukele proudly stated, “Salvadorans have given the example to the entire world that any problem can be solved if there is the will to do it.”

Overwhelming Support for Nayib Bukele

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal began sharing partial, preliminary results around 9 p.m. With votes from 31% of polling places tallied, Bukele had more than 11 times the number of votes as his nearest competitor from the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. This overwhelming support demonstrated the trust and admiration Salvadorans have for Bukele’s administration.

A Unique Leader

Bukele, often referred to as the “world’s coolest dictator,” has gained fame for his aggressive crackdown on gangs, resulting in the arrest of over 1% of the country’s population. Many voters expressed a willingness to sacrifice certain elements of democracy in order to combat gang violence. Bukele himself described the vote as a “referendum” on his administration’s accomplishments.

A Controversial Reelection

El Salvador’s constitution prohibits reelection, but after Bukele’s party won the 2021 legislative elections, the newly elected congress purged the country’s constitutional court and replaced judges with loyalists. These loyalists later ruled that Bukele could run for a second term, despite critics arguing that he has eroded the country’s system of checks and balances.

A Historic Celebration

Bukele’s face adorned flags, shirts, and life-size billboard cutouts throughout downtown San Salvador’s main square. Supporters, like Delya Rodriguez, flooded the streets in celebration. Rodriguez, a chicken farmer, expressed her admiration for Bukele, stating that the traditional parties had never done anything for people like her. She praised Bukele as a “singular and different president.”

Fighting Gang Violence

Bukele’s administration has been responsible for the arrest of over 76,000 people since launching a crackdown on gangs in March 2022. While criticized for a lack of due process, these arrests have allowed Salvadorans to reclaim their neighborhoods from gang control. José Dionisio Serrano, a soccer teacher, expressed his support for Bukele and his party, emphasizing the need for continued change and transformation in the country.

A Fresh Start

El Salvador’s traditional parties, which have alternated in power for decades, are now in shambles due to their own corruption and ineffectiveness. The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) failed to resonate with voters, with their presidential candidates polling in the low single digits. Salvadorans are seeking a fresh start under Bukele’s leadership.

A Confident Leader

Sporting a blue golf shirt and white baseball cap, Bukele confidently cast his vote on Sunday afternoon. As he dropped his ballot into the box, R.E.M.’s hit song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” played in the background. Known for trolling his critics, Bukele made it clear that he believes the state of emergency and his extraordinary powers to combat gangs must continue.

A Vision for Change

Bukele has a vision for El Salvador, even if it means challenging the constitutional ban on reelection. He believes that the people’s desires for change outweigh any legal restrictions in place. While critics exist, Bukele’s administration has successfully reduced violence in a country once known as one of the most dangerous in the world.

A Global Case Study

Bukele and his New Ideas party are increasingly viewed as a case study for the rise of authoritarianism on a global scale. Tyler Mattiace, an Americas researcher for Human Rights Watch, explains that people who feel let down by concepts like democracy and human rights are turning to leaders like Bukele who promise change.

By Marcos Alemán

Read More of this Story at – 2024-02-05 05:03:00

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