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El Salvador begins voting in presidential election with populist candidates leading

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El Salvador begins voting in presidential election with populist candidates leading

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Photo: Reuters

El Salvadorans will take to the polls today to elect a president. Though the ruling leftist Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) have been the only two parties to rule the country over the past three decades, an outsider is polling first in today’s election.

Indeed, former San Salvador Mayor Nayib Bukele, member of the right-wing Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA)–a small fringe party–maintains a double-digit polling lead over the FMLN and ARENA candidates.

A populist, he has tapped into mass discontentment amongst El Salvadorans by promising to root out corruption, kickstart the country’s sluggish economy and lessen the prominence of gangs. If no candidate wins more than half of the votes cast today, there will be a second round of elections. Even if Bukele can’t break 50% today, he is very likely to win in the runoff.

Should he come to power, Bukele will likely prove more of the same. A main focus of his presidency would likely be investment in the country’s poor infrastructure. As for corruption, with criminal organizations effectively controlling large swaths of the country and thousands of votes, Bukele will have to cooperate and negotiate with gangs to stay in power and complete infrastructure projects.

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Photo: Toshiki Sasazu

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