From Mayor to President: Nayib Bukele, the 43rd President’s Journey to Power

Meet Nayib Armando Bukele Ortez or simply Nayib Bukele, the 43rd president of El Salvador, born on July 24, 1981. He is the first president since José Napoleón Duarte (1984–1989) not to have been elected as the candidate of one of the country’s two major political parties: the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

Nayib Bukele
El Salvador’s President, Nayib Bukele. Getty Images

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Political Journey of Nayib Bukele

Bukele’s political journey began as the mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán (2012–2015) and later nation’s capital, San Salvador (2015–2018), despite of winning both elections under FMLN, he faced expulsion from the party in 2017. Unfazed, Bukele forged his own path, founding the political party Nuevas Ideas in 2018.

Presidential Election and Reelection

In the 2019 presidential election Bukele won the Salvadoran presidential election with the center-left Democratic Change. But, after the Democratic Change was dissolved by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), Bukele navigated a unique path, aligning with the center-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) . He secured victory with 53% of the vote. Fast forward to the 2024 election, where Bukele claimed an astounding reelection, declaring a landslide win with over 85% of the vote. His party, New Ideas, is expected to win almost all of the 60 seats in the legislative body, commanding a scure position at the Centre stage.

Controversies and Criticisms

Despite his triumphs, Bukele is no stranger to controversies. Human rights groups decry arbitrary arrests during his anti-gang initiatives, with an estimated 75,000 people detained under emergency measures that have been repeatedly extended. In a report in December, Amnesty International criticised the “gradual replacement of gang violence with state violence“.

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