El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has submitted the necessary paperwork to run for re-election in the country’s upcoming 2024 presidential election in February. Bukele, a strong advocate for Bitcoin, received significant support from the public after being officially nominated by his party, Neuva (New) Ideas, to seek another term in office. Speaking in front of thousands of El Salvadorans, Bukele proclaimed, “Five more [years], five more and not one step back. We need five years to continue improving our country.”
Bukele first came to power in 2019 when Neuva (New) Ideas broke the two-party dominance that had persisted in the country for three decades. The Nationalist Republican Alliance and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMNLB) had previously held control. Despite his popularity among the local population, critics argue that Bukele is not eligible to seek a second consecutive term, citing the country’s constitution. El Salvadoran lawyer Alfonso Fajardo emphasized this point on October 26, stating, “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, providing a legal basis for Bukele’s bid for re-election. According to Reuters, a study conducted by an El Salvadoran university showed that New Ideas enjoys the backing of 70% of the country’s voting population. In comparison, its closest competitor only received 4% of the total votes.
Bukele’s government has been hailed for implementing various tech-friendly policies to bolster the country’s economy. For instance, they eliminated all taxes on technological innovations, demonstrating a commitment to fostering innovation and growth. This progressive approach extends to Bukele’s endorsement of Bitcoin. Despite legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed by FMNLB claiming that Bukele’s Bitcoin adoption program is unconstitutional, El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender in September 2021, solidifying its status as a pioneer in the cryptocurrency space.
Gabor Gurbacs, a VanEck strategy advisor, recently praised El Salvador’s potential, stating that it could become the “Singapore of the Americas.” This optimistic outlook is bolstered by Bukele’s successful efforts to combat crime in the country. His government’s heavy-handed crackdown against the notorious MS-13 gang has resulted in a drastic decline in the homicide rate. El Salvador recorded the highest homicide rates in the world six years ago, but it has since seen the rate fall by 92.6% to one of the lowest in Latin America. However, critics, including the United Nations, argue that Bukele’s approach may have violated human rights laws, as tens of thousands of individuals were imprisoned without proper legal representation.
El Salvador’s presidential election is scheduled for February 4, 2024. As Bukele seeks a re-election, his candidacy represents a continuation of his administration’s policies aimed at improving the country’s economy, combating crime, and embracing technological innovation. The outcome of the election will determine whether El Salvador will continue along its current trajectory under Bukele’s leadership.