Nayib Bukele, the President of El Salvador, has officially submitted his candidacy for re-election in the forthcoming presidential election slated for February 2024.
Bukele, a staunch supporter of Bitcoin, garnered substantial backing from the populace on October 26, following his formal endorsement by his political party, New Ideas, to vie for a second term.
Addressing a massive crowd of Salvadorans, Bukele expressed his desire for an additional five years in office, stating, “Five more [years], five more and not a single step backward. We require another five years to continue our progress in bettering our nation.”
Bukele first ascended to the presidency in 2019, leading the New Ideas party to break a thirty-year stranglehold on power held by the Nationalist Republican Alliance and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).
Nonetheless, Bukele’s candidacy has its critics. Alfonso Fajardo, an El Salvadoran lawyer, argues that the country’s constitution bars Bukele from seeking a second consecutive term, emphasizing the prohibition on immediate presidential re-election as many as seven times. He voiced this reminder on October 26, the same day Bukele received his party’s nomination.
Contrary to this, in September 2021, the Supreme Court of El Salvador decreed that presidents are permitted to pursue consecutive terms in office.
According to a survey conducted by a Salvadoran university and reported by Reuters, New Ideas enjoys the support of a staggering 70% of the electorate, leaving its nearest rival trailing with just 4% of the total votes.
In June 2021, FMLN, one of New Ideas’ competitors, launched a legal challenge against Bukele’s Bitcoin adoption initiative, claiming it to be unconstitutional. However, their efforts were in vain as just three months later, in September 2021, Bitcoin was officially adopted as legal tender in El Salvador.
Moreover, Bukele’s administration has enacted a series of tech-centric policies aimed at bolstering the nation’s economy, including the abolishment of all taxes on technological innovations.
Gabor Gurbacs, a strategy advisor at VanEck, has recently expressed his belief that El Salvador has the potential to become the “Singapore of the Americas,” thanks to these initiatives.
A significant portion of Bukele’s popularity can be attributed to his uncompromising crackdown on MS-13, an international gang that was a key factor in El Salvador recording the world’s highest homicide rates six years ago.
Since then, the country has witnessed a remarkable 92.6% drop in its homicide rate, plummeting from 106 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 to just 7.8 in 2022, making it one of the safest countries in Latin America.
However, this success has not come without criticism. The United Nations, among others, has accused El Salvador of violating human rights laws by detaining 65,000 individuals without granting them the legal rights necessary to defend themselves.
The presidential election in El Salvador is scheduled for February 4, 2024.