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News > El Salvador

Salvadoran President Will Request Leave to Run for Re-Election

  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, Nov. 28, 2023.

    Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, Nov. 28, 2023. | Photo: X/ @gersonmartinez

Published 30 November 2023 (20 hours 15 minutes ago)

This is a requirement for him to compete for a new mandate in the elections on Feb. 4, 2024.

On Thursday, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele will formally request a leave of absence from his position before the Legislative Assembly starting December 1, six months before his term concludes. This move is to focus on the electoral campaign for his reelection.


Salvadoran Congress Approves 19th Extension of Emergency Regime

The absence leave is the final requirement, established in a 2021 ruling by the Supreme Court's Constitutional Chamber, for Bukele to compete for a new mandate in the elections on Feb. 4, 2024. Here are five key points to explain the current Salvadoran political situation:

1. Bukele's Absence

The 2021 Supreme Court ruling dictates that "the President who has applied as a presidential candidate for a second term must request a leave of absence during the six months prior" to the start of the next term.

Bukele would be absent from his position starting December 1. The Legislative Assembly, with a broad majority from the ruling party, is expected to consider the leave request on Thursday.

This aims to achieve compliance with the Constitution's article 218, which prohibits the use of the position for electoral propaganda. However, analysts warn that Bukele has already engaged in electoral propaganda, even using state funds and government resources.

The text reads, "Impressive: El Salvador launched sea and air ambulances for the Tasajera Island inhabitants. Nayib Bukele also inaugurated this town's first health center. 'The public must be better than the private,' he declared. Could this be implemented in Paraguay?"

2. Who Will Replace Bukele?

The Salvadoran constitution states that, in the absence of the president and vice president, one of the designated individuals will lead the Executive branch.

Along with granting permission, it is expected that Congress will ratify the persons proposed by Bukele for the presidency to fill his role.

Bukele assumed the presidency in 2019 with the far-right party Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) as the electoral vehicle due to the delay in registering his New Ideas party (NI).

The Salvadoran constitution allows the president's resignation "for a duly proven serious cause, as determined by the Legislative Assembly," without specifying that it should be for an electoral campaign since reelection is prohibited.

Bukele can submit three proposals for the designated presidential role to Congress. If he does not, the Legislative body will be responsible for choosing the person. The designated individual will assume the presidential role on December 1 and leave on May 30, 2024.

3. Campaign Until January 2024

Once he is free from his presidential duties, Bukele has until January 31, 2024 to carry out the electoral campaign, which for other presidential candidates began on October 3.

The current Electoral Code allows candidates for president and vice president to advertise only for four months before the elections. In the case of candidates for legislators and municipal councilors, this period is reduced to two months.

The collegial body prohibits defamation, slander, and calumny, stating that those who "promote or participate in public disorder will be punished in accordance with common laws."

4. A Second Term

In a radio and television broadcast on Tuesday night, Bukele stated that he would "leave his position" to focus on the electoral campaign for "a second term," omitting the word reelection.

The Constitutional Chamber judges enabled presidential reelection, reversing a 2014 constitutional interpretation that prohibited the Salvadoran president from seeking to participate in elections again in the next 10 years after leaving office.

The Constitution states that a person cannot be a presidential candidate if they have held the position "for more than six months, consecutive or not, during the immediate previous period."

The judges argued that the 2014 interpretation is "erroneous" and pointed out that the Constitution allows a citizen to be president for a maximum of 10 years.

5. The People's Decision

Bukele also mentioned that "it will be the decision of the people" in the 2024 elections whether he returns to the Presidency.

The ruling states that the judges' interpretation "ignores that allowing the president's nomination to compete again for the presidency does not imply de facto that he will be elected."

Constitutional judges also indicated that this "only implies that the people will have among their range of options the person currently holding the presidency, and it is the people who decide whether to trust him again or choose a different option."

They emphasized that the proposed interpretation in this document does not violate fundamental rights, both of majorities and minorities, as the power to decide among a range of options is always left in the hands of the people.


Nayib Bukele
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