The revelation that opposition parties in El Salvador, including the left-wing FMLN and right-wing ARENA, plan to unite in a candidate to challenge Nayib Bukele in the 2024 elections has provoked the wrath of the president, who has used the country’s past civil war as an argument against this heterogeneous alliance.
According to media reports, the Frente Farabundo Mart para la Liberación Nacional and the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista have decided to ally with the new center-right formations Vamos and Nuestro Tiempo, with the objective of forming a single candidacy that would also be joined by civil society organizations.
The parties are finalizing the details, and the candidacies are expected to be ready by the end of this week. If finalized, it would be the first major opposition alliance with a single candidacy in more than half a century.
The president, who announced in 2022 his intention to seek reelection with his Nuevas Ideas movement, reacted to this idea. His candidacy for a second term has been controversial since it was possible thanks to an interpretation of the Supreme Court that qualified the constitutional limit.
In social networks, the president criticized plans for an alliance between parties that in the past clashed during the civil war that left a toll of “85,000 dead and one million displaced” and led to the emergence of gangs and failed peace agreements, resulting in “30 more years of poverty and underdevelopment.”
Bukele has boasted of having significantly reduced levels of insecurity in the country, thanks to a state of exception imposed in March 2022 to combat gang violence. However, this measure has been questioned by human rights organizations due to mass arrests and the suspension of constitutional rights.
In addition, controversy has arisen over the vote of the Salvadoran diaspora in the upcoming elections. The Assembly, controlled by Bukele’s ruling party, passed a law last year allowing residents abroad to vote in person and online. However, the process has been questioned by the opposition due to concerns about the narrow margin for its implementation and the lack of guarantees to avoid fraud.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has delayed the contracting of the company in charge of the electronic voting system, which has raised questions about the transparency of the process.