El Salvador: Polls predict a comfortable victory for "Bukelismo"

President Nayib Bukele's party, New Ideas, is by far the top favorite despite the authoritarian climate in the country since last year

President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele.

Next Sunday, February 28, Salvadorans go to the polls again to elect deputies and municipal offices. Photo: Presidency El Salvador

LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Vargas Bozzetto

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Leer en español: El Salvador: Encuestas pronostican una holgada victoria del "Bukelismo"

.Two years and a little less than a month after the election of Nayib Bukele as president, next Sunday, February 28, Salvadorans go to the polls again to elect deputies and municipal offices in a day that will also serve to assess the first 21 months of government of the president.

The elections will be held amid the tense political climate that on February 9 left the record in the Legislative Assembly of a controversial proposal. Protected by article 131 of the Constitution, which gives said chamber the power to declare the "physical or mental incapacity of the President of the Republic," Deputy Ricardo Velásquez, from the opposition Arena party, personally signed the petition that applies said article to Bukele.

Also read: El Salvador: Nayib Bukele faces Congress

In an interview for a YouTube channel, Velásquez said, referring to the president: "My thesis is two possibilities: either Nayib Bukele is a criminal or he is bad in the head. Is this boy in his mental faculties or is he not? Let 5 doctors say it! "

All this, exactly one year after the president stormed the Legislative Assembly together with a group of heavily armed soldiers to demand that the Chamber approve a loan of 109 million dollars for phases II and III of the Territorial Control Plan. , one of his most ambitious projects, with which he seeks to eradicate the scourge of the murderous gangs that for years have made El Salvador occupy the first position of the countries with the most homicides in the world.

An objective that is on the way to being achieved, since the rates of violence and death in the Central American nation have fallen to historical lows since the president with the cap back began to stand up to the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, the main Salvadoran gangs. According to the government, there were 1,322 murders in 2020, 1,076 fewer than in 2019.

Despite the fact that Deputy Velásquez considers that Bukele is mentally unfit to carry out the position he holds, the truth is that the polls predict an overwhelming victory for his party, New Ideas.

At the beginning of February, the University Institute of Public Opinion of the Central American University (IUDOP) made public the results of a survey carried out on more than 1,200 citizens. Despite having managed the health crisis with repressive measures such as forced confinement in conditions more prone to continue to reproduce the virus than to stop it, the Salvadoran people seem to support the president more than ever, as 68.8% of those surveyed he plans to give his vote to "bukelism".

For their part, pre-election polls carried out by FUNDAUNGO's Center for Public Opinion Studies predict that 60.8% of voters will opt for New Ideas, which would thus become the country's leading political force, followed by battered Arena and GANA, which with 4.9% and 4.5% of the votes, would be the second and third forces, respectively.

Should a result of this type occur, Bukele would have a comfortable parliamentary majority with which to legislate practically without opposition and, therefore, from a hegemonic position that worries those who until now have been warning about Bukele's dabbling with authoritarianism, especially after seeing how one of the pillars of democracy, the separation of powers, trembled the 9F under the guns of the military.

And it is that the president's greatest ambition is to make El Salvador a first world country, prosperous and peaceful, although for this he must use drastic and unconventional means that cast doubt on his democratic nature and that has even earned him the nickname of "dictator". "If he were really a dictator, he would have shot them all" was the unfortunate phrase chosen on one occasion by the president to defend himself. However, the similarities between the Salvadoran case and many other governments with authoritarian overtones are obvious. They abound throughout the region, for example, rapid rise to power, massive citizen support, messianism, systematic support in the armed forces, violation of human rights, and bad relations with the press.

In a recent interview, the Salvadoran Celia Medrano, a human rights observer, said that El Salvador is experiencing “a regressive rhythm with respect to basic democratic guarantees that we considered already won and that are now at risk”. Medrano is one of the 5 finalist candidates to occupy the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and also pointed out that “the closure of political spaces can be irreversible in the very long term if we do not fight now for the guarantees that we already had. won ”.

The IACHR itself, a body dependent on the OAS, has observed human rights violations by the Bukelist government on several occasions. In April of last year, he urged Bukele to guarantee the life, health, integrity, and dignity of gang members in prison and to put an end to practices such as "absolute confinement of 24 hours a day, solitary isolation or the suspension of any activity." At the beginning of the month, it announced precautionary measures in favor of 34 members of the digital newspaper El Faro who, according to the Commission, have been systematically threatened and intimidated for exercising journalism.

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