San Salvador, El Salvador (EFE). –
El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) agreed on Friday to register the presidential candidacy of Nayib Bukele of the New Ideas (NI) party for immediate re-election in February 2024, despite requests to reject it for being unconstitutional.
The electoral body said on X (Twitter) it had approved the candidacy of the incumbent president and that of opposition candidate Manuel Flores of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN, left).
“The collegial body agreed to register the presidential formula of the FMLN party with 5 votes, and to register the presidential formula of the New Ideas party with 4 votes and 1 abstention by Judge Julio Olivo, after confirming that they meet the legal requirements,” the TSE stated.
Bukele thus becomes the first Salvadoran president to run for immediate re-election since Maximiliano Hernández Martínez did so in 1935 during his military dictatorship.
Bukele announced his intention to seek re-election on October 26, minutes before the deadline, with dozens of supporters waiting outside the headquarters of the Electoral Tribunal.
“The Salvadoran people will decide if they want to continue building the new El Salvador or if they want to return to the past,” Bukele said at the tribunal, accompanied by a heavy security detail.
“We are going to bury the opposition with God’s help, and to do that we need a sweeping victory at the polls,” he added.
The TSE’s approval of Bukele’s candidacy, announced by the president since September 2021, came hours after lawyers for a civic movement and candidates for opposition deputies submitted requests to ban him from running.
Bukele’s path to reelection was cleared in 2021 when the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, appointed by the ruling New Ideas party majority without following the legal selection process, changed a criterion for interpreting the Constitution.
In its decision, the Chamber argued that the constitutional text prohibiting re-election responded to the needs of “20, 30, 40 years ago,” and that it was an “excessive restriction disguised as legal certainty and the actions of representatives who resist the change of the sovereign, who resist listening to the will of the people.”
Before this change, a president had to finish his 5-year term and wait 10 years to seek the presidency again.
According to the candidate for deputy, David Elías, the “order” issued by the Constitutional Chamber is not valid, since this Chamber is currently composed of “usurpers.”
Various lawyers, civil organizations and the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the State University of El Salvador (UES) claim that at least six articles of the Salvadoran Constitution prohibit the immediate re-election of the president.
For example, Article 152 states that “those who have held the presidency for more than six months, consecutive or not, during the period immediately preceding or within the last six months,” may not be candidates.
Analysts close to New Ideas say that in order to run for re-election, Bukele must leave the presidency on December 1 of the current year, six months before the end of his term as head of the executive.
It is worth noting that before becoming president, Bukele stated that “in El Salvador, the same person could not be president twice in a row.”
Also, after reaching the Salvadoran presidency in 2019, Bukele described Juan Orlando Hernández and Daniel Ortega as “dictators” who were able to be re-elected in Honduras and Nicaragua, respectively, thanks to decisions by constitutional courts.EFE