Nayib Bukele is the wide favorite to win the presidential elections this Sunday in El Salvador. After the closing of the voting stations, the first official results were expected before midnight local time, early morning in Argentina.
The Cid Gallup polling institute published tonight the data of a mouth poll according to which Bukele obtains 87% of the votes, with a tendency to reach 90%. The director of the Institute, Luis Haug, added that based on interviews with 21 thousand voters carried out since the polls opened at 7 in the morning, in second place is Manuel Flores, presidential candidate of the Farabundo Martí Liberation Front. National (FMLN, left) with 7%.
Third place, among the six candidates aspiring to the highest office in the state, goes to Joel Sánchez, from the right-wing Arena party (4%).
If the victory is confirmed, according to all the polls, the president will achieve re-election in office for a new period of five years, something prohibited by the Constitution. However, Bukele was authorized to run in these elections by the constitutional chamber, appointed by a Congress with a pro-government majority, and with the endorsement of the Supreme Court of Justice that the opposition denounces that the president controls at will.
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Election day passed without serious incidents, although nine people were arrested for tearing ballots, making political proclamations at polling places or appearing drunk.
The president of the opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance party (Arena), Carlos Saade, denounced irregularities in the electoral process. Meanwhile, the electoral observer mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) took note of the peculiarity of the elections being held under the emergency regime. “We have observed everything fluently, but if there are specific issues we invite you to report,” declared the head of the mission, Isabel de Saint Malo.
Nayib Bukele is a big favorite in the presidential elections of El Salvador
Bukele was headed for re-election, riding on enormous popularity achieved by his heavy-handed policy that managed to dismantle the most dangerous gangs (maras) in the country and that dominated Salvadoran territory at will.
“We changed the world capital of murder, the most dangerous country in the world, into the safest country in the Western Hemisphere and the only way to do it is to stop all the murderers,” he said at a press conference after voting this Sunday in San Salvador. .
In the last two years, under an emergency regime, he managed to pacify the country after a brutal offensive against organized crime, which included the arrest of more than 75,000 suspects (more than 1% of the population) and the construction of the largest prison. largest in Latin America.
The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele (AP Photo/Salvador Meléndez)By: AP
“El Salvador had metastases, but we performed surgery, we are undergoing radiotherapy, and we are going to come out healthy without the gang cancer,” said Bukele.
In the middle was a trend of complaints of human rights violations, according to activists. Different NGOs warned in recent months that more than 7,000 detainees were innocent and were released.
The dismantling of the gangs took Bukele's popularity through the roof. In two years, El Salvador went from being one of the most violent countries in the region to one with the lowest homicide rates in Latin America.
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However, the opposition and the press denounced systematic abuses in the repressive policy launched by the government. Police reports, revealed by the digital newspaper El Faro, revealed arrests for unusual reasons, such as becoming nervous in an operation in the midst of arbitrary detentions. The processes are behind closed doors. A law even allows mass trials to be held, with up to 900 defendants at a time, without the need to present individual evidence against each of the defendants.
But the population ended up supporting this policy due to the results achieved. In fact, the Salvatrucha 13, Barrio 18 Sureño and dissident Barrio 18 Revolutionary gangs were virtually dismantled, although remnants remain scattered in different parts of the country.
Now, Bukelee, if re-elected, will have to face the challenge of maintaining security levels and his enormous popularity. But he will also have as his main challenge the difficult economic situation of the country.
29% of the 6.5 million Salvadorans living in the country are poor, according to ECLAC, and many continue to emigrate to the United States in search of work. Some 3 million live abroad and send remittances worth 8 billion dollars annually, vital for the local population.
Even with everything and his popularity, the president did not manage to get Salvadorans to use the bitcoin that in 2021 he imposed as legal tender in a dollarized economy, according to him, to boost it. Now, in an eventual second term, the economy and poverty will be crucial to maintaining his high levels of popularity.