Portada » Bukele once again overcomes the electoral court and announces a landslide victory in the local elections

Bukele once again overcomes the electoral court and announces a landslide victory in the local elections

by Isabella Walker
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Confusion reigns again on another of El Salvador’s election nights. It is clear that Nayib Bukele’s party and its allies won this Sunday in most of the 44 municipalities at stake in these local elections, but the way of communicating it and the different versions of some tight results in some localities have generated dismay. The president, who a month ago was re-elected for another five years, once again went before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and assured that the party he created and its satellite formations won in 43, so the opposition He won only in one municipality.

Those parties with different acronyms that support the government have defeated Nuevas Ideas in their fiefdoms, but Bukele makes those victories his own. It happened, for example, with the GANA party in Libertad Costa, where the use of bitcoin was tested with surfing tourists. In any case, this evening the electoral authority continued counting the votes on a day that did not have much turnout; it is estimated that participation was low. Even the presidential elections did not have the effervescence typical of campaigns in which power is truly contested. Bukele’s victories are so clear that there is no room for uncertainty.

Election observers denounced the obstacles journalists faced in covering election day, which is nothing new in a country where its president attacks the media daily. Former Panamanian Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo, head of the OAS mission in El Salvador, denounced that journalists were expelled from the premises where votes were counted. “The journalistic role as an observer of the process is fundamental for the transparency of counting, transmission and control,” Saint de Malo said on social networks. Pedro de Vaca, the IACHR’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression, joined these criticisms and stressed that journalism “cannot be understood as an obstacle”.

The message with which Bukele announced the results has different readings. The first, which is permeated by criticism from those who argue that El Salvador is sliding towards an authoritarian slope. The president governs under an emergency regime that has been approved more than 25 times in the past two years by the Legislative Assembly, which controls his party with an overwhelming majority. With this mechanism that suspends many civil liberties, the army took to the streets and arrested thousands of young people. To put it bluntly, he completely put an end to the Salvadoran gangs, a criminal network that had existed for decades. This has made Bukele enormously popular, and he also controls the judiciary with judges like him. He was thus able to be re-elected for another five years, despite the Salvadoran Constitution expressly prohibiting it. It is therefore not gratuitous that he proclaims his victory by saying this: “In El Salvador we live in a democracy and the people’s decision is respected.”

He then acknowledges that in many municipalities people voted for mayors who did not belong to their party. “This is the vote of punishment for the terrible efforts that some of them have made. For this reason, as everyone has noticed, I have not spoken out in support of any candidate for mayor. However, people are wise and the new mayors belong to parties that are indisputable allies of our project,” she explained. According to their data, for the first time in a democratic country the FMLN, the classic left-wing party, did not win either a mayor or a deputy. Bukele belonged to that party, from which he broke away when he was not chosen to be a presidential candidate in 2019. Now he wanted to erase every trace of that past by deleting tweets with quotes from Che Guevara and applause for Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua. Arena, on the right, a single mayor’s office.

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