Manuel Flores (R) and Werner Marroquin (L), presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, for the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), celebrate after the ratification of their candidacies during the party convention, on 01 October 2023, in San Salvador, El Salvador (issued 03 October 2023). The official electoral campaign period for the candidates for the Presidency of El Salvador, including the current president Nayib Bukele, who is seeking re-election despite the accusation that it is unconstitutional, begins this Tuesday and extends until January 2024, according to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). EFE/ Rodrigo Sura

Presidential race officially begins in El Salvador

San Salvador, Oct. 3 (EFE) – The electoral campaign for the presidency of El Salvador begins on Tuesday, including the current president, Nayib Bukele, who is seeking re-election despite allegations of unconstitutionality.

The campaign will last until January 2024, according to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), with Bukele being the candidate to beat given his popularity.

Bukele’s candidacy is based on a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Chamber, whose judges, appointed by and loyal to the president, interpreted the constitution to allow the president to immediately seek another term.

Thirteen political parties and six executive candidates will participate in the 2024 general elections, which will also elect deputies to the Legislative Assembly, the Central American Parliament, and members of municipal councils.

The opposition, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN, left), a former guerrilla movement, is so far the only party to officially submit candidates for the presidency and vice presidency to the TSE.

Political organizations have until October 26 to send their requests to the collegial body so that it can verify compliance with the established requirements.

EFE asked FMLN representative Anabel Belloso if candidates who have not yet submitted their documents can participate in the electoral campaign.

“Theoretically, there should be no problem for those who have not yet made an official registration request,” Belloso replied.

On social networks, the ruling party, New Ideas (NI), has already launched its campaign with the message: “Mark the N for New Ideas, vote for Nayib Bukele.”

The TSE does not prohibit campaigning for presidential candidates who have not filed.

“Legally, there is no violation, but logically, the ideal would be to have the registration to continue with the campaign,” explained the deputy during a telephone conversation.

For Belloso, who is one of the four deputies of the Left Party in Congress, Nuevas Ideas “will wait until the last moment” to present its request to the TSE.

The deputy pointed out that it “will not be an obstacle” for President Bukele to “carry out his campaign.”

She also assured that “we have seen early campaign by the party currently in government, and the (electoral) court has not exercised its authority according to its legal mandate.”

“Outside the established deadlines, the government and the president live in permanent propaganda. The institutional media form a network of repeaters of the NI and government’s speech, and they neglect to exercise their institutional function, and this is highly condemnable. ” she asserted.

“It is not possible that this type of abuse can occur, that it can be visible and that the competent authorities or those who should regulate do not say anything, and I am talking about the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.”

Belloso indicated that she hopes for an electoral contest with “justice” and that a “purposeful campaign” will be developed.

“I believe that our country has gone through so much in its history that the population deserves that those who aspire to be in decision-making spaces present alternative solutions in this context where there are serious setbacks in terms of rights,” she said.

“We must aspire to a high level campaign where lies and hatred are left to those who are liars and haters,” she added.

The electoral law states that “electoral propaganda is allowed only four months before the date established by law for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, and two months before for deputies and municipal councils”.

The collegial body prohibits defamation and slander, noting that those who “promote or participate in public disturbances will be punished in accordance with the ordinary laws.”

There are more than 5.5 million Salvadorans called to participate in the 2024 general elections, in addition to another 685,026 living abroad.

What is unique about these elections is that Bukele is participating and seeking re-election, making him the first president of the Salvadoran democratic stage to seek immediate re-election, which is prohibited by the Salvadoran Constitution.

In addition to electing the president, in 2024 Salvadorans will elect 44 mayors and municipal councils, down from 242 after Congress approved a law to reorganize the country’s territorial division, presented and promoted by Bukele.

Citizens will have to vote for 60 deputies instead of 84, also after the approval of a regulation promoted by the Salvadoran president. EFE