‘World’s coolest dictator’ Nayib Bukele declares presidential victory in El Salvador

El Salvadors President Nayib Bukele, who is running for reelection, and his wife Gabriela de Bukele, show their inked fingers during the presidential and parliamentary elections in San Salvador, El Salvador, February 4, 2024. — Reuters
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, who is running for reelection, and his wife Gabriela de Bukele, show their inked fingers during the presidential and parliamentary elections in San Salvador, El Salvador, February 4, 2024. — Reuters

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, a self-proclaimed “world’s coolest dictator”, declared himself the winner of national elections in a landslide victory on Sunday, claiming he captured over 85% of the vote — even though electoral officials have not released any results.

Bukele, 42, a prominent candidate in El Salvador, was favoured to win another five-year term due to his successful gang crackdown and improved security, Reuters reported.

He said that his New Ideas party also secured at least 58 positions in the 60-seat legislative assembly, despite concerns about democracy erosion.

“A record in the entire democratic history of the world,” Bukele said on X, the social media site. “See you at 9pm in front of the National Palace.”

Electoral officials have not commented on the results yet. Polls closed at 5pm local time, about two hours before Bukele claimed victory. An exit poll by CID Gallup put Bukele’s support at 87%.

Bukele is expected to become the first Salvadoran president to be re-elected in almost a century, potentially wielding unprecedented power and overhauling El Salvador’s constitution, which opponents fear will lead to the scrapping of term limits.

Bukele’s popular security strategy, which suspended civil liberties to arrest over 75,000 Salvadorans without charges, led to a significant decrease in murder rates and transformed a country with 6.3 million people into one of the world’s most dangerous.

However, some analysts argue that this mass incarceration is not sustainable in the long term.

A person sells merchandise of El Salvadors President Nayib Bukele of the Nuevas Ideas party, who is running for reelection, on the day of the presidential election in San Salvador, El Salvador, February 4, 2024. — Reuters
A person sells merchandise of El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele of the Nuevas Ideas party, who is running for reelection, on the day of the presidential election in San Salvador, El Salvador, February 4, 2024. — Reuters

Hours earlier, Bukele held a press conference and said his party needed all the support it could muster to maintain its anti-gang fight and continue reshaping El Salvador.

“So, if we have already overcome our cancer, with metastases that were the gangs, now we only have to recover and be the person we always wanted to be,” said Bukele. “I believe El Salvador, after half a century of suffering now it is our time to move forward.”

Most voters seem to reward Bukele for reducing crime groups in El Salvador, which made life difficult and fuelled migration to the United States, despite doubts about the election outcome.

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