(CNN Spanish) — Without saying how he will do it, the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, announced his aspiration for presidential reelection in 2024, a measure that has attracted criticism from his opponents and that, according to many, is a violation of the national Constitution.
With his announcement, Bukele, who was elected president in 2019, and who enjoys high popularity ratings, has also generated rejection from the opposition, which says that the president has concentrated public powers and, after his announcement, they have said that he was born ” the right to insurrection”.
But, what do the Constitution and the Constitutional Chamber say about re-election?
In the first place, the possibility that Bukele register as a candidate for the Presidency for 2024, was born from a ruling of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, which in May 2021 established that the decision that the president continue in his position rests with the electors. It must be taken into account that the Constitutional Chamber was elected by the Legislative Assembly with an official majority.
The Constitutional Chamber he said in his sentence that the fact that a president competes again to reach that position “only implies that the people will have among their range of options the person who currently holds the presidency”, that is, the Chamber said that he would not necessarily be re-elected .
“Hence, what said provision seeks to protect is that this ‘permanence’ is preceded by free and equal elections, which is why the president who seeks a second term must necessarily submit to the electoral contest like other candidates, in order to that it is the people who finally decide to elect him or opt for a different political option”, says the ruling of the Constitutional Chamber issued in 2021.
After this ruling, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of El Salvador (TSE) reported, also in 2021, that it would abide by the Supreme Court’s resolution since, it said, the decisions of the highest court are “unappealable and mandatory.”
The new magistrates establish in the ruling that in order to prevent a president who opts for re-election from prevailing in office, he must leave it six months before the new period begins. At that time, according to the sentence, the position would be assumed by the vice president.
What the Constitution of El Salvador says about re-election
Article 152 of the Constitution establishes in its first paragraph that a person who has held the Presidency of the Republic for more than six months, consecutive or not, during the immediately preceding period, or within the last six months prior, cannot be elected to the presidency. at the beginning of the presidential term.
Moreover, in article 88 of the Constitution of El Salvador, it is established that alternation in the exercise of the presidency of the Republic is essential for the maintenance of the form of government and political system. “The violation of this norm forces the insurrection”, says the Constitution.
But for the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber, that article is not violated with a possible participation of Bukele in new elections. In fact, article 88 would be violated if “the intention was to eliminate the electoral phase, stripping the people of their right to decide who they want to represent them,” reads the sentence.
“An interpretation of this article is not possible in which the people are forced to renounce the possibility of electing again as president who was elected in a previous election, when it is the same article 152 ordinal 1 that allows a maximum of one person to exercise the presidency for 10 years and in fact, the 1983 Constituent Assembly requires that those 10 years be exercised, if the people so decide, consecutively”, says the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
And although article 154 of the Constitution establishes that the presidential term in El Salvador is five years… “without the person who has exercised the presidency being able to continue in office even one more day,” the Court said in its last year’s ruling that what this article ensures is that “periodic elections be held so that the people always have the opportunity to decide every five years if they want to change their political ideology or if they want the same political party to continue in The presidency”.
What’s more, he adds that article 154 precisely prevents the president from “imposing himself without prior elections.”
Until now, Bukele has not said how he will become a candidate according to what the Constitution says, which has not been reformed despite the yes of the Constitutional Chamber, while social organizations advanced that they will maintain the protests in the streets, in rejection of immediate presidential re-election.