El Salvador's President Bukele Secures Overwhelming Congressional Majority, Yet Opposition Calls for New Elections

El Salvador's President Bukele Secures Overwhelming Congressional Majority, Yet Opposition Calls for New Elections
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Júlia Barreto Reis

International Justice Team Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

On February 4th, 2024, in defiance of the constitutional prohibition on immediate re-election, overridden by a Supreme Court decision in an authoritarian interference by the judiciary, President Nayib Bukele was re-elected for his second term as the President of El Salvador. Electoral authorities confirmed Bukele's victory with approximately 85% of the votes.

On February 19th, 2024, the electoral authority of El Salvador announced that the President's Party (Nuevas Ideas) would have an overwhelming majority of 54 out of a total of 60 seats in the upcoming legislature. This vote count, similar to the presidential election, was conducted manually by electoral authorities. An absolute majority in Congress gives Bukele significant power to continue with his popular policy in the field of public security, marked by tough crackdowns on gangs and criticised worldwide by human rights organisations for violence and violations of due process.

On the same day, opposition parties called for the annulment of the results of the parliamentary elections on February 4th, owing to the numerous irregularities observed, and for new elections to be held in their place. The parties ARENA, Nuestro Tiempo, and Vamos claimed to have documented 69 "anomalies" in the voting and vote-counting process, including failures in the ballot processing and sending system, duplication and triplication of votes in favor of Bukele, abandoned ballots at polling stations, and seals violated on ballot packaging.

Despite the opposition's efforts to hold new elections, it is unlikely that this will happen, considering Bukele's popularity due to his tough anti-crime policy, though the same continues to be widely questioned globally for the exaggerated methods used in flagrant violations of human rights.

Sources and further readings:

Reuters, 'El Salvador confirms Bukele's supermajority after opposition calls to void election results' (20 February 2024) https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/el-salvador-opposition-requests-repeat-election-congress-after-irregularities-2024-02-19/. Accessed 22 February 2024. 

ABC News, 'El Salvador's Bukele wins supermajority in Congress after painstaking vote count' (19 February 2024) https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/el-salvadors-bukele-wins-supermajority-congress-after-painstaking-107354965/. Accessed 22 February 2024.