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How will the absence of opposition influence Nayib Bukele's politics?

An absolute majority will allow the Salvadoran president to fulfill his promises without obstacles, just three years from the end of his first five-year term in power.

Nayib bukele

As predicted by the forecasts and polls, the party of President Nayib Bukele, New Ideas, obtained up to 65% of the votes, an unprecedented absolute majority in the Central American country Photo: Presidencia El Salvador

LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Vargas Bozzetto

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Leer en español: ¿Cómo influirá la ausencia de oposición en la política de Nayib Bukele?

Last Sunday, El Salvador inaugurated a new stage in its history at the polls. As predicted by the forecasts and the polls, the party of President Nayib Bukele, New Ideas, obtained up to 65% of the votes, an unprecedented absolute majority in the Central American country that put an end to the bipartisanship led by the parties in recent decades. Arena and FMLN.

According to the Bukelista deputy Gustavo Escalante on his Twitter account, with the results, the citizens have told Bukele: "President, we remove all obstacles and we give you the opportunity to continue with projects that give benefits to the Salvadoran people." In turn, Eduardo Escobar, a lawyer and political analyst, observes that "the population chose governance" but warns that the results represent the loss of legislative control that was had before. “The Assembly also has the role of controlling the decisions of the executive; now the Legislature loses that role of counterweight ”, he explains.

Also read: 4 facts to understand the electoral process in Ecuador

La oposición deberá ser inteligente para posicionarse de nuevo en la preferencia electoral de la ciudadanía. El problema es que no tendrán cómo mostrarlo, pues serán irrelevantes en la Asamblea Legislativa y en la mayoría de Concejos Municipales

— Eduardo Escobar (@esec76) March 3, 2021

The victory of New Ideas, therefore, heralds the end of political use of military power that cost Bukele the label of "dictator." And it is that his irruption in the Legislative Assembly on February 9 of last year together with a group of armed soldiers was a before and after in the international perception of his image as president. Before an exalted crowd, that day the president invoked article 87 of the Salvadoran Magna Carta, which contemplates "the right of the people to insurrection," and urged the citizens to exercise it in case the opposition deputies did not approve the budget for the Territorial Control Plan.

Now that the Salvadorans have decided to put the rest of the parties out of action, Bukele can continue to carry out this plan, whose actions have resulted in 28 fewer violent deaths between January 1 and February 28 of this year than during the same last year's period.

The other side of the coin in the fight against insecurity is made up of two axes: prevention and reintegration. Following the guidelines of the Cuscatlán Plan, the government will seek "that the gangs have no breeding ground among the youth." To do this, it will take measures focused on increasing opportunities for young people through education, art, and culture, sports, scholarships, new productive infrastructures, and employment.

On the other hand, in order to eradicate corruption and grease the public administration, Bukele contemplates its modernization through a "less political and more technical" government apparatus in which the ministerial cabinets cease to be "compartments watertight, disconnected from each other ”to start working in a coordinated manner. Likewise, one of the most innovative parts of its renovation project is the use of big data to provide the government with real-time information on the different realities of the country.

Regional and international perspectives
Once in the presidency, Bukele made his position clear before the regimes of Nicaragua and Venezuela: "Ortega and Maduro can say goodbye to their allies in El Salvador." Bukele took five months to keep his word regarding Maduro, by expelling the five Venezuelan ambassadors from the country, thus severing all diplomatic ties with the Bolivarian regime while recognizing Juan Guaidó as interim president of the Caribbean country. After that, Maduro called him a "wimp of imperialism."

Bukele considers the United States the "greatest ally" of El Salvador. After the election of Joe Biden, Presidential Commissioner Carolina Recinos recalled at a press conference that "the United States is our largest commercial partner but it is also home to more than 3 million Salvadorans" and that in order to "guarantee their interests we are going to work hand in hand with the government chosen by the Americans ”.

Additionally, contrary to what many thought, during the government of Donald Trump, Bukele knew how to satisfy some necessary points for the immigration policy of the US president, but managed to obtain different aid and economic support from his ally in the north. A diplomacy similar to that achieved by Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico.

This strengthening of a government close to the United States contrasts sharply with the movement to the left that Latin America is experiencing, with governments such as Argentina, Mexico, and Bolivia as the spearhead, added to possible changes in Ecuador and Chile soon.

However, the meeting held between Bukele and Xi Jinping at the end of 2019 in Beijing, where both leaders signed investment agreements, clarified the total geopolitical independence of El Salvador.

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