March 27, 2024
El Salvador's Political Landscape: Bukele's Bid for Reelection and the Bitcoin Connection
Bitcoin News

El Salvador’s Political Landscape: Bukele’s Bid for Reelection and the Bitcoin Connection

In a significant development, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador has officially filed paperwork to seek reelection in the country’s upcoming presidential election scheduled for February 4, 2024. Bukele, known for his advocacy of Bitcoin and his popularity among the local population, received strong public support when he was officially nominated by his party for a second term.

Speaking before thousands of Salvadorans, Bukele declared, “Five more [years], five more and not one step back. We need five years to continue improving our country.” Bukele rose to power in 2019 when his political party, Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas), disrupted three decades of two-party dominance between the Nationalist Republican Alliance and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Despite his popularity, Bukele’s bid for reelection has not been without controversy. Critics, including Salvadoran lawyer Alfonso Fajardo, argue that the country’s constitution prohibits Bukele from seeking a second consecutive term. Fajardo emphasized, “Today is a good day to remember that immediate presidential re-election is prohibited up to 7 times by the Constitution.”

However, in September 2021, El Salvador’s Supreme Court ruled that presidents can run for consecutive elections, paving the way for Bukele’s reelection campaign.

Bukele’s party, Nuevas Ideas, enjoys substantial support, backed by 70% of the country’s voting population, according to a study by a Salvadoran university cited by Reuters. In contrast, his closest competitor has received only 4% of the total votes.

One of Nuevas Ideas’ competitors, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), filed a lawsuit in June 2021, challenging the constitutionality of Bukele’s Bitcoin adoption program. However, this legal challenge gained little ground, as Bukele and the government of El Salvador went on to make Bitcoin legal tender in the country just three months later, in September 2021.

The Bukele government has also implemented a series of tech-friendly policies aimed at strengthening El Salvador’s economy, including the elimination of taxes on technological innovations.

Notably, Gabor Gurbacs, a strategy advisor at VanEck, has suggested that El Salvador has the potential to become the “Singapore of the Americas.”

Much of Bukele’s popularity can be attributed to his strong stance against MS-13, a multi-national gang that contributed to El Salvador recording the highest homicide rates in the world six years ago. Thanks to the government’s crackdown on crime, the homicide rate has seen a dramatic reduction of 92.6%, falling from its peak of 106 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 to just 7.8 in 2022. El Salvador now boasts one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America.

However, critics, including the United Nations, have raised concerns about human rights violations, arguing that El Salvador breached international laws by imprisoning 65,000 individuals without affording them proper legal rights for defence.

El Salvador’s upcoming presidential election in 2024 promises to be a significant political event, with Bukele’s bid for reelection stirring both support and controversy in a nation that has witnessed significant changes during his tenure.


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