El Salvador president registers for possible unconstitutional second term News
Nayib Bukele, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
El Salvador president registers for possible unconstitutional second term

The ruling political party in El Salvador, Nuevas Ideas (NI), tweeted on Monday that President Nayib Bukele will seek a second term. The tweet stated, “Nuevas Ideas are invincible” as “the largest party in the history of El Salvador,” but the announcement sets up a possible constitutional conflict.

El Salvador’s Constitution limits the president’s term to five years and restricts consecutive terms. Article 154 states, “The presidential period shall be of five years, and shall begin and end on the first of June, without the person who exercised the Presidency being able to continue in his functions one day more.” Some constitutional scholars interpret this to mean the person holding the office of president may not continue in that position for the next five year term.

The current constitutional conflict comes two years after a conflict arising from Article 152, which expressly prohibited presidents from being immediately reelected. However, in 2021, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the country’s president can serve two consecutive terms. The panel that handed down the ruling consisted of justices who were appointed by NI. The Legislative Assembly controlled by NI dismissed the previous justices.

Bukele and NI have encountered international criticism for their governance. In June, Bukele signed a controversial electoral reform into law that will slash the number of seats in the country’s Legislative Assembly from 84 to 60. Opposition parties accuse Bukele of consolidating power and making it harder for smaller parties to win seats. Additionally, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the government is blocking critics from social media and internet access. The websites for several parties, including the main opposition party, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), are blocked.

Despite the critics, Bukele remains immensely popular. A 2022 Gallup poll estimated his approval rating amongst Salvadorans at 85 percent. His administration is also seen as responsible for the state sponsored anti-gang crackdown.