Globe, Latin America, United Kingdom

Bukele: authoritarianism and populism

A president cannot govern with the madness of popularity, as obviously they will want to do everything to win points and stop doing something else that is perhaps more necessary, but could take away popularity.


Nayib Bukele. Photo by Gobierno Danilo Medina / Flickr.  Creative Commons License.

Luis Beatón


So says the historian Bernal, and the abolition of article 291-A of the Electoral Code in El Salvador by the Legislative Assembly shows President Nayib Bukele’s Government’s plans to remain in power, local analysts now believe.

The legislation ruled that changes to the Code could not be made when there was less than a year left to the elections and they were victorious on 4th February, nevertheless, the parliamentary majority of Nuevas Ideas (NI) acted illegally to eliminate this restriction, according to opposing legislators. The governing party fears the electoral rules that brought them to power, because it needs to keep them there. It is that simple, believes Ruth E. Lopez, head of Justice and Anti-Corruption in Cristosal, a non-governmental organisation which defends human rights.

It gives them free rein, free of questioning, to reform what they need to in order to guarantee that the elections will have the best result in favour of the NI party, said Eduardo Escobar, the director of Acción Ciudadana.

“Changing the rules of the electoral process cannot be done if there is a not a year left and they have just changed it, the reason being to have an ace up their sleeve at a time that Bukele believes is not in his favour without changing the law”, stated the historian Carlos Gregorio Bernal, cited in the daily newspaper, Colatino.

The Legislative Assembly passed it with an exemption of formalities, thus avoiding debate and analysis of this action of eliminating the article. The matter was presented barely 10 months away from the elections.

It is known that in the country there is no separation of Powers and it is the Government who sets actions in motion after violating the separation of Powers and the Constitution, experts think.

It must be remembered that after getting a majority in the Legislative Assembly, the government’s first step was to take positions from the members of the Constitutional Court and the attorney general, an action that gave Bukele all the power, they claim. In Bernal’s opinion, the idea of the separation of Powers was constitutionally stated and established, but in practice there is a recurring tradition of giving the president more prominence and strength.

However, this excessive concentration on one person has negative consequences for the rest of society. “At least until today, this government’s greatest effort was along the lines of gathering together the largest amount of political power, obviously, it is swimming in profits. Meanwhile it is working on a public communication agenda to distract people’s attention towards things such as the reduction of local councils which are not priority topics for the country”, he emphasised.

Addressing this crisis, Lopez, the head of Justice and Anti-Corruption in Cristosal, considered that now with regard to the elections in 2024, the process rules are not very clear.

The actions of Nuevas Ideas in Parliament undoubtedly contributed to this, or at least this is the image that their MPs gave when they eliminated the measure that worked as a barrier to impulsiveness.

Now, there is no limit on modifying the rules and all this will take place in a scenario where things must go according to the wishes of the Government to avoid stalling the game of politics, but some people are asking if there will be a rebellion as authorised by the Constitution.

Regarding this approach to the topic, critical voices indicate that NI, with a majority in the Legislative Assembly, will impose the rules of their game towards the February 2024 elections.

They maintain that the justification of pro-government political forces for the repeal said that the article obstructed the possibility of creating reforms that guaranteed the citizen’s right to cast their vote, but they are hiding that the Government does not want opponents in 2024. PL

(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: Pixabay

Share it / Compartir:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *