July 25, 2021


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El Salvador: Bukele party and its allies ready for legislative control | Election News

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The preliminary tally of Sunday’s vote suggests that President Nayib Bukele’s party and his allies get a majority in Congress.

A preliminary count of Sunday elections in El Salvador has shown that President Nayib Bukele’s party and his allies are likely to win a congressional supermajority, which would further strengthen the popular leader’s grip on the Central American nation.

With 80% of the vote counted on Monday morning, the electoral authority said its projections showed candidates from Bukele’s New Ideas Party (Nuevas Ideas) and allied GANA party could win 56 seats out of the 84 members of Congress.

Bukele celebrated early Monday, tweeting: “Our people have been waiting for this for 40 years.”

A supermajority would allow the president to choose the country’s new Supreme Court justices and attorney general, as well as the power to enact constitutional changes, without the need to negotiate with opposition lawmakers.

Bukele, 39, a populist and one of Latin America’s youngest presidents, won a landslide victory in 2019 over the pledge to eradicate corruption. Despite tensions with the previous congress, he maintained extremely high approval ratings.

Just over half of the 5.3 million people eligible to vote took part in Sunday’s elections to choose lawmakers and local officials.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele speaks as COVID-19 vaccinations begin at a public health center in San Salvador, El Salvador on February 17, 2021 [File: Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

Bukele is not re-elected, as El Salvador’s constitution limits the presidency to a single term, but campaigned in hopes that his party would secure a majority or supermajority until the end of his term in 2025.

Some election observers have expressed concern that the uneven results could undermine the country’s institutions. It will be the first time since the 1992 peace accords that ended a 12-year civil war that a party has won a supermajority.

Bukele’s reign was marked by allegations of corruption and use of the Salvadoran military with pressure the Legislature to approve a loan of $ 109 million for its security plan.

“It creates a democratic concern to lose the balance of power,” political analyst Oscar Picardo told local television station TCS.

Yet Bukele enjoys wide support from Salvadorans.

Wendy Henriquez, 46, who works as a street vendor in the capital of San Salvador and had never voted before voting for Bukele in the 2019 presidential election, told Al Jazeera this week that she would be supporting Bukele’s New Ideas Party.

“I will vote for [Buekel’s party] because he helped us a lot, ”she said before the vote.

The final counting of votes is expected to begin Tuesday evening.

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