According to a poll, nearly 70 percent of Salvadorans supported or supported the election of President Nayib Bukele for a second consecutive term in 2024, despite the country’s constitution expressly prohibiting it published by the Salvadoran newspaper on Tuesday La Prensa Grafica.
The results of the survey conducted by the company LPG Datos, the electoral department of La Prensa Grafica, showed that of the 1,500 respondents polled between February 15 and 24, 68.3 percent supported or “voted a positive vote” for Bukele to be re-elected. Only 13.1 percent said they opposed Bukele’s re-election or had a negative opinion of her.
Most respondents seemed unaware that the Salvadoran constitution prohibits consecutive presidential re-election. When asked whether the constitution allows for the president’s immediate re-election, 34.9 percent said yes, while only 24.9 percent said no. A similar number to those who backed Bukele for a second term, 67.9 percent, said their constitution should allow it.
Bukele, who took office in 2019, announced in September, his intention to run again for a second consecutive term for president once his current five-year term ends on May 30, 2024, although El Salvador’s constitution does not allow for an immediate re-election of a president after the end of their term. The constitution allows a previously elected president to run for a second, non-consecutive term.
The much-loved Salvadoran President started March with an approval rating floating around 92 percent – by far the highest in the region, largely due to his crackdown on rampant gang violence in the country, which has reportedly led to what appears to be a dramatic drop in crime.
There are three articles in El Salvador’s constitution that address the issue of the country’s presidential terms and/or prohibition of consecutive terms.
Article 152 of the Salvadoran Constitution states that a person cannot stand as a candidate for President if he or she has “held the office of President of the Republic for more than six months, whether continuous or not, during the immediately preceding period or within the last six months preceding the beginning of the months before the beginning of the President’s term.”
Article 154 states: “The term of office of President is five years, beginning and ending on June 1, and the person who has served as President shall not continue in office one day longer.”
Article 75 The Constitution of El Salvador states that “those who sign laws, proclamations, or affidavits promoting or supporting the re-election or term of office of the President of the Republic, or employ direct means to that end” lose their rights as citizens.
In September 2021, the Supreme Court of El Salvador – all of which had been chief justices replaced by the overwhelming pro-Bukele majority in Congress this year alongside the country’s Attorney General – issued a controversial reinterpretation of Article 152 of the Salvadoran constitution that paved the way for Bukele’s possible re-election.
In its ruling, El Salvador’s Supreme Court argued that while the constitution specifically states that a person who has held office for more than six months “in the immediately preceding period” may not be a presidential candidate, they believe the ban stands , addressed to the candidates and not to the President. Therefore, according to the ruling, an incumbent president can run for a second five-year term in a row as long as he resigns six months before the end of his term.
The controversial verdict met with international criticism, including from the US State Department accused the court of undermining democracy.
Bukele explained his decision to seek re-election fight that “developed countries have re-election”.
“And thanks to the new configuration of our country’s democratic institution, this will now also be the case in El Salvador,” he continued.
At the request of La Prensa Grafica to their reasons for allowing the president to be re-elected immediately, those who supported it replied that they supported the work of the current president. Another reason was the claim that voters should have the final say on who the president is, not the written law, and that the possibility of immediate re-election could be useful for some projects to proceed. Those who expressed opposition to immediate re-election responded that the main reasons for their opinion were to support the Constitution, to give other candidates a chance to take the lead, that they believed a term of five years for one person and feared that allowing re-election would lead to a dictatorship.
As certainly established by El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Court last year, the next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on February 4, 2024. If a runoff election is required, it would then take place on March 3, 2024.