Salvadorans went to the polls on Sunday to vote in legislative and local elections that could give a broad victory to President Nayib Bukele’s party and consolidate his review of traditional policies.
Opinion polls show that Bukele’s party, New Ideas, can win more than half of the mayoral seats and enough seats to have at least a simple majority in Congress.
A two-thirds majority in Congress would allow the party to appoint high-ranking high-ranking officials, such as the Advocate General and five of the top 15 judges.
Bukele, a 39-year-old publicist and mayor, took office in 2019 and vowed to eradicate corruption and maintain two-party policies – led by the Nationalist Republican Alliance and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front – which have dominated since the end of the 1992 civil war.
Although they have gained popularity by providing financial support during the pandemic and fighting the murders, Bukele has clashed with both the legislature and the Supreme Court, and rights groups say he has shown authoritarian tendencies.
Wilson Sandoval, coordinator of El Salvador’s legal anti-corruption advisory center, said it was important to maintain a counterweight to the executive.
Voting in Bukele would essentially remove a unit that can control the CEO, Sandoval said, and so “we give them an empty check so they can do what they want.”
Bukele has said that his rivals are afraid that his policies will threaten their privileges.
Polls opened at 7pm (1300 GMT) and are scheduled to close at 17.00 (2300 GMT), with voters voting for 84 legislators and 262 mayors.