Fireworks shook the dawn on Monday (1st) in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, when the preliminary results of the legislative elections in the country were published.
With half of the votes counted, the newly established ruling party Nuevas Ideas emerged with 65% of the vote. If these figures are confirmed, President Nayib Bukele will have an absolute majority in the unicameral Congress, without the need to form an alliance with smaller parties.
Among other matters, the president will have a clear path to appoint Supreme Court justices and convene a new Constituent Assembly – an old draft that has been blocked by Congress.
“Victoria!” The agent posted on his social media, with images of the fires in the city sky.
The partial official tally also confirms the shrinking of the country’s most traditional parties, the right-wing arena (Republican National Alliance) and the left-wing FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), with 7% and 2.2% of the votes, respectively. voice. far.
Thus, the result brings about a transformation of the political map of the country, which emerged after the peace agreement that ended the civil war (1980-1992).
The two traditional parties, which represented the peaceful path of the two parties that participated in the conflict, dominated Salvadoran politics for three decades: Arena commanded the presidency from 1989 to 2009, while the FMLN remained in office from 2009 to 2019. .
However, the governments of the two acronyms ended up frustrating the population. During this period, the violence caused by the so-called “maras” (gangs that dominate villages and evict peasants from their land) increased, the country was unable to revive the economy and it there were reports of corruption on both sides, with several leaders convicted or being dealt with
In addition, the number of Salvadorans who have emigrated undocumented to the United States has also increased, which has caused political friction with Washington.
All this created the scenario for the coming to power of Bukele, a representative of the populist right already affiliated with the FMLN and mayor of San Salvador. He was elected in the first round in 2019, beating both the Arena candidate and his former party candidate.
“Internally, Bukele now has El Salvador in his hands, as he has to keep control of the three powers. Now his challenge is to win Joe Biden and have the political and financial support of the United States,” said the analyst Óscar in Folha. Picardo.
During Donald Trump’s time in the White House, Bukele received support and funding from Washington to strengthen border control and crack down on attempts at undocumented immigration.
With the new US administration, however, dialogue has not progressed – the situation is similar to what is happening with Guatemala and Honduras, two other countries in the region that are also ruled by right-wing politicians.
So, for the moment, the Salvadoran president is waiting to know what will be the new American policy for Central America. “It is likely that the Democrat [Biden] opt for a less repressive policy, which goes in the opposite direction to the way in which these governments acted, by using a hard hand in the repression of their own population ”, explains Picardo.
In February, Bukele traveled to Washington to attempt to meet with an important representative of the new US government, but without success.
The victory of the Bukele party in the legislative elections raised fears of an authoritarian escalation in the country. In a trial in February last year in which he had the backing of the military, he even surrounded the headquarters of the Legislative Assembly and served as the president of the house.
So far, the administration of the current president has been marked by controversy. Its action against the coronavirus pandemic is energetic and has borne fruit, the violence of the maras has decreased. The number of homicides has decreased by 60% and, as a result, increased support for him, especially in rural areas, which are most affected by violence. Progress has also been made in the corruption investigations of previous governments.
On the other hand, Bukele was accused of human rights violations during the pandemic, of installing sequestration centers for people suspected of infection or having had contact with an infected person. Localized quarantines have been applied to quell protests against the government.
Independent newspapers which publicized these abuses have been persecuted or threatened. The El Faro website, the country’s largest, is being sued for publicly denouncing the nepotism of the Bukele government and its irregular actions in enforcing quarantine measures.