El Salvador elections: President Bukele set to gain more control | Elections News

San Salvador, El Salvador – Salvadorans are heading to the polls on Sunday to elect the nation’s 84-member Nationwide Meeting in a vote that civil society teams concern might destabilise the democratic order imposed by a 1992 peace accord that ended a 12-year civil battle.

Voters will select 84 legislators to characterize them within the nationwide meeting for the subsequent three years, and polls present practically 70 % of voters favour president Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Concepts celebration.

“I’m going to vote for [Nayib’s party] as a result of he has helped us lots,” stated Wendy Henriquez, a 46-year-old road vendor who had by no means voted earlier than casting a poll for Bukele within the 2019 presidential elections.

She stated she is supporting candidates from his celebration as a result of she thinks the president is doing a very good job, citing pandemic assist and a plan to give all public faculty college students a pc as the federal government’s main accomplishments.

Whereas supporters of the president’s celebration are energised, civil society teams have raised issues the elections might velocity up the deterioration of the nation’s democratic establishments that they are saying started when Bukele took workplace.

“We haven’t seen such constant authoritarian behaviour because the finish of the peace accords,” stated Luis Mario Rodriguez, director of Political Research for the Salvadoran Basis for the Social and Financial Improvement (FUSADES).

A supporter of the Nuevas Concepts political celebration holds calendars with the image of El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele throughout a rally in San Salvador on February 24 [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

Put up-war order

Two essential political events – right-wing ARENA and left-wing FMLN – have dominated Salvadoran politics because the signing of the peace accords.

However their assist has waned lately after a sequence of high-profile corruption scandals, leaving a gap for a populist candidate to win over disgruntled voters with guarantees of change.

In 2019, Bukele grew to become the primary candidate from outdoors these two events to win the presidency within the post-war interval and he has repeatedly downplayed the significance of the peace accords. The 39-year-old social media savvy chief campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and promised to rid the political system of an outdated order that pillaged public funds.

Reasonably than give attention to proposals of particular person candidates, Bukele has centered on convincing voters to prove for his celebration in order that he can have sufficient seats to go laws with out opposition from conventional events, who he claims are corrupt.

Nuevas Concepts candidates have promised to carry a brand new method to safety, training and unemployment, however many should not new faces in Salvadoran politics, and held public workplace as members of one other celebration.

Polls present no different celebration – of the 2 conventional ones and 6 others – will gain a lot more than 5 % of the vote. Polls open at 7am native time (13:00 GMT) at practically 1,600 voting centres across the nation, and officers count on preliminary outcomes just a few hours after polls shut at 5pm (23:00 GMT).

Though Bukele will not be up for re-election, which is prohibited by the Salvadoran structure, he has been campaigning for his celebration within the hopes of profitable a majority or supermajority of legislators till his time period ends in 2025.

Because the peace accords, no celebration has gained a easy majority of 43 seats within the meeting with out forming a coalition with legislators from different smaller events.

Authoritarian slide?

Since taking workplace in June 2019, human rights teams in El Salvador have warned of Bukele’s more and more authoritarian governing fashion. They’re notably apprehensive about his use of the armed forces, which performed a troubling position in El Salvador’s previous and carried out massacres in opposition to unarmed civilians throughout the civil battle.

On February 9, 2020, Bukele entered the nationwide meeting with the armed forces to strain legislators to go a mortgage to assist his safety plan.

Bukele has rejected and mocked criticisms about his governing fashion, saying he would have taken even more excessive motion like capturing his opponents if he actually have been a dictator. He and his supporters have used the hashtag #QueBonitaDictadura (What a Stunning Dictatorship) on social media to spotlight public work tasks and different authorities initiatives.

Supporters of the ARENA celebration participate in a rally over the last day of the election marketing campaign in San Salvador on February 24 [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

When more than 40 civil society teams approached candidates from all events to signal a letter committing to respecting democratic norms, no candidate for Nuevas Concepts signed on.

Many human rights teams and political analysts thought of the February 2020 episode a costume rehearsal for what’s to come.

“Voters suppose that if Bukele behaves badly, they are going to right it with the subsequent election, however it’s doable that there gained’t be one other election with the identical guidelines of the sport as clear as they’ve been because the peace accords,” stated Salvadoran human rights defender Celia Medrano.

“The issue that’s at stake on February 28 is that this frustration gained’t matter if he manages to control every thing as a result of it should already be too late.”

Widespread assist

Some voters say they need their vote to counteract this potential focus of energy.

“He needs to gain an excessive amount of energy. If they’ve all the facility, they’re going to need to do no matter they need,” stated Daniel Pinos, a 41-year-old road vendor who plans to vote for opposition candidates from new events VAMOS and Nuestro Tiempo.

“If there are different events, it’s more difficult. They’re not going to have the opportunity to do no matter they need.”

However most voters brush off critiques of Bukele and his authoritarian tendencies as political infighting or jealousy.

“Sadly, they (the standard events) haven’t finished issues the appropriate means, and their stealing has come out throughout – within the radio, TV, and newspapers,” stated Nuevas Concepts voter Julio Munoz, a 56-year outdated vegetable vendor.

“They need to speak dangerous in regards to the president as a result of it fits them as a result of they’re going to lose and so they’re not going to be governing. It’s throughout for them.”

Nuevas Concepts supporter Roberto Antonio Linares, 52, stated he doesn’t need to see the federal government grow to be a dictatorship as a result of he remembers the hurt these governments do to the folks. However he doesn’t imagine Bukele is on that path.

“We’ll simply have to see within the time that he governs if there isn’t a corruption that impacts the folks,” Linares stated.

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