El Salvador pro-Bitcoin president Nayib Bukele launches re-election bid


El Salvador president Nayib Bukele has filed paperwork to be re-elected in the country’s upcoming 2024 presidential election in February.

Bukele, a Bitcoin advocate, received strong support from the public on Oct. 26 after he was officially nominated by his party to run for re-election.

“Five more [years], five more and not one step back,” Bukele said in a speech in front of thousands of El Salvadorans. “We need five years to continue improving our country,” he added.

Bukele rose to power in 2019 when his political party, Neuva (New) Ideas, broke three decades of two-party dominance between the Nationalist Republican Alliance and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMNLB).

However, despite his popularity among the local population, critics such as El Salvadoran lawyer Alfonso Fajardo maintain that the country’s constitution prohibits Bukele isn’t eligible to seek a second consecutive term.

“Today is a good day to remember that immediate presidential re-election is prohibited up to 7 times by the Constitution,” he said on Oct. 26.

However, in September 2021, El Salvador’s Supreme Court ruled that presidents can run for consecutive elections.

New Ideas is backed by 70% of the country’s voting population, according to Reuters, which cited a study by an El Salvadoran university. Its closest competitor only received 4% of the total votes.

One of New Ideas’ competitors, FMNLB, filed a lawsuit in June 2021 claiming Bukele’s Bitcoin adoption program is unconstitutional. However, that complaint made little ground as Bukele and El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender three months later September 2021.

The Bukele government has also implemented other tech-friendly policies aimed at strengthening the country’s economy, such as eliminating all taxes on technological innovations.

Gabor Gurbacs, a VanEck strategy advisor, recently said that El Salvador has the potential to become the “Singapore of the Americas.”

Related: El Salvador launches first Bitcoin mining pool as Volcano Energy partners with Luxor

Much of Bukele’s popularity comes from his heavy-handed crackdown against MS-13, a multi-national gang which contributed towards El Salvador recording the highest homicide rates in the world six years ago.

As a result of the crackdown, El Salvador’s homicide rate has fallen a staggering 92.6% from its peak of 106 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 to 7.8 in 2022. It now boasts one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America.

However, the United Nations and other critics argue El Salvador breached human rights laws by imprisoning 65,000 without affording them legal rights to defend themselves.

El Salvador’s presidential election will take place on Feb. 4, 2024.

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