Showing posts from June, 2023

Elections, big projects, and sports

Today's post weaves together several different news stories from the past week in El Salvador, from changes in the structure of government, to big projects promised in electoral campaigns, to sport stadiums.  The Legislative Assembly has  enacted  Nayib Bukele's plan to reduce the number of municipalities in El Salvador from 262 to 44 by combining existing towns and cities into single municipalities.  Together with changes in the number of Legislative Assembly seats and the mathematical formula to allocate seats among parties, the new measures serve to consolidate power in Bukele's Nuevas Ideas party and lessen the chances of small, minority political parties getting a toehold. Despite these changes to the rules of the game, or perhaps because of them, a coalition of civil society groups, calling itself "Citizen Resistance" has proposed a presidential candidate, Joel Humberto Sánchez.  Sánchez is a Salvadoran businessman who left El Salvador when he was 19 years

Changing the rules of the game

On February 4, 2023, Salvadorans thought they knew the rules of the game for the coming national elections on February 4, 2024. After all, the country had a law on the books which stated that changes in the electoral process could not be implemented in the final 12 months before an election. But on March 15, 2023, the Legislative Assembly repealed  this provision in the election law. The repeal effectively allows changes to El Salvador’s electoral process to be made right up until election day. The strongest players in the game, president Nayib Bukele and the legislative deputies of Nuevas Ideas, gave themselves permission to change the rules for their upcoming election races at the last minute. Last night the Legislative Assembly controlled by Nuevas Ideas took advantage of its power to change the rules by adopting major modifications to the election of deputies to the Legislative Assembly, less than seven months before the first ballots are due to be cast. Bukele announced in a s

Bukele announces structural changes

Nayib Bukele gave a speech to the nation of El Salvador tonight on the 4th anniversary of his presidency.   In the speech he proposed a major restructuring of local government and the country's congress. As would be expected, the Salvadoran president began his speech describing the advances his government claims in public security through its war on gangs, contrasting the prior life in neighborhoods controlled by gangs with his description of a current reality where families can walk on streets at night and cross former gang boundaries.    After finishing the war on gangs section of his speech, he turned to three announcements. The first was a proposal to reduce the number of municipalities in the country from 262 to 44.   Existing municipalities would be converted to districts within these new municipalities.  Instead of 262 mayors and municipal councils and associated staff, there would only be 44.   Existing offices providing municipal services would remain, only the elected of