Opinion: Nayib Bukele Doesn’t Need to Run a Presidential Campaign to Win Re-Election

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Dec 11th, 2023

It has been almost two weeks since the Salvadoran legislature granted President Nayib Bukele a six-month Leave of Absence to run a presidential campaign and seek re-election.

Throughout this period, candidate Bukele has refrained from making public appearances or campaign announcements, maintaining a deliberate silence, a luxury he can afford.

The fact is that Nayib Bukele can effortlessly secure re-election without the necessity of conducting a presidential campaign or engaging in public appearances.

Nayib Bukele doesn’t need to run a presidential campaign because he holds a significant lead in the race, his opposition is weak, and most Salvadorans don’t know who their candidates are; lastly, the New Ideas legislative candidates will run the campaign for him.

To begin with, Bukele is too far ahead for any opposing candidate to catch up to him. As of now, three presidential election surveys have been made public: one by Disruptive Magazine at Gavidia University, another by CID Gallup, and a third by UCA University.

All these surveys indicate a voting intention gap exceeding 59% between Bukele and any of his opponents. This margin is too substantial to overcome in less than two months.

Secondly, Bukele is up against a weak opposition with candidates that Salvadorans barely know; this doesn’t help to bridge the voting gap.

The political parties contending with Bukele and his party are weak. The most recent survey by UCA University posed the question: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the political party?

The most prevalent answers for ARENA and FMLN were “corruption and thieves,” and for Nuestro Tiempo was that “does not know the political party.” These are the three principal parties looking to defeat Bukele.

Salvadorans also don’t know much about the candidates opposing Bukele or have an unfavorable opinion of them; the results of the CID Gallup survey support it.

Regarding Joel Sanchez, the ARENA candidate, 69% of respondents expressed that they didn’t know him, and an additional 16% held an unfavorable opinion of the presidential candidate.

Manuel Flores, the FMLN candidate, also didn’t do well in the survey, with 52% indicating they were not familiar with him and 33% expressing an unfavorable opinion.

Then it is Luis Parada under the Nuestro Tiempo political party; 65% responded that they didn’t know the candidate, and 18% had an unfavorable opinion.

Salvadoran voters don’t know of Bukele’s opposing candidates and hold unfavorable views of the political parties they represent; this helps Nayib Bukele!

Lastly, the New Ideas legislative candidates will run the campaign for Nayib Bukele. It is no secret that most of these candidates were elected or will be elected because they support Nayib Bukele.

Without Bukele, the New Ideas candidates would have a hard time getting elected or re-elected; they know this, so every time they do a speech or conduct an interview, they mention their support for Bukele or thank the president for his work.

Even if Nayib Bukele is not campaigning, the New Ideas candidates for the Legislative Branch will campaign for him.

The opposition point is that Nayib Bukele should not be running for a second presidential term

Bukele’s opposition has argued that Nayib Bukele’s presidential campaign is unconstitutional and he should not be allowed to seek a second presidential term.

Yes, at least four articles of the Salvadoran constitution prohibit re-election; nevertheless, Bukele is allowed to run as a presidential candidate thanks to a resolution by the Salvadoran Constitutional chamber.

The constitutional chamber stated that it was up to Salvadorans to decide whether the president should get a second consecutive presidential term.

It is clear that with such an advantage two months into the elections and a weak opposition that most Salvadorans don’t know, Nayib Bukele doesn’t need to run a presidential campaign.

Furthermore, the New Ideas candidates will run the presidential campaign for him as they need to be tied to the president to get elected or win re-election.

Nayib Bukele has brought about notable changes in El Salvador, evident in improvements in the country’s security, culture, and tourist destinations. While opinions may differ on the approach taken, the results speak for themselves.