The Supreme Court of El Salvador decided, on Friday night (3), that President Nayib Bukele may run in 2024 for a second term. Immediate re-election is not allowed by the country’s constitution.
The decision highlights a process of strengthening Bukele’s power, which has been advancing against Salvadoran institutions. After an attempt to take the Legislature by force in February 2020, he managed, through questioned elections, to win a majority in Congress in May of this year.
Constitutional Court judges were subsequently removed, and last week, in another controversial initiative, Congress approved the forced retirement of one-third of the country’s judges.
Now, the expectation is that, on the 15th, the date of the bicentennial of El Salvador’s independence, the Executive will deliver a bill to reform the Constitution to parliamentarians. Among the proposed changes are mechanisms to further strengthen presidential power, such as extending the term of office, and other points aimed at passing laws by simple majority, contrary to the current scheme, according to which more than two support is needed. thirds of Congress.
The Supreme Court judges who approved the possibility of Bukele running for re-election were appointed by the Salvadoran leader himself. According to the magistrates, article 152 of the country’s Charter, which determines that the president cannot be “one who has held the Presidency of the Republic for more than six consecutive months or not, during the previous immediate period, or within the last six months prior to the beginning of the presidential term”, does not apply to those currently in office, although it still applies to those who held the position before the current term.
Bukele’s advances against institutions have generated criticism from human rights bodies. José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at the NGO Human Rights Watch, said that “since Bukele’s supporters took control of the Assembly of El Salvador, drastic measures have been taken that appear to be aimed at destroying the independence of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General”.
According to a recent poll by the Gallup Institute, Bukele has 87% popular approval, making him one of the most highly rated presidents in Latin America. The rejection of its management is only 11%. The president was elected in 2019 in the void created by the growing erosion of the country’s traditional parties, the Arena, linked to the military, and the FMLN, now formed by the heirs of the leftist guerrilla.
The president’s fledgling party, Nuevas Ideas, remains the favorite of Salvadorans, with 42 percent approval, according to the same poll, while Arena has only 4%, and the FMLN has 3%.