Contributor Perspectives

El Salvador's Combative New President Faces a Perilous Balancing Act

Lino Miani
Board of Contributors
Jul 1, 2019 | 09:15 GMT
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is seen during his inauguration ceremony in San Salvador, El Salvador, on June 1, 2019.

Lacking a legislative majority, and without the support of El Salvador's entrenched elites or the army, new Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele will need to operate in a cooperative manner. So far, he has shown little inclination to do so.


With a style and pedigree different from that of his modern predecessors, El Salvador's new president came out swinging against the status quo almost as soon as his inauguration ended on June 1. Nayib Bukele's supporters see his willingness to break with politics as usual as a sign that El Salvador may finally shake off the lingering vestiges of its 1980-1992 civil war. Until now, every Salvadoran president has been associated with one of the main protagonists in that brutal conflict, the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance. Part of Bukele's appeal is that he represents a break with the past, but change will come at a price in one of the world's most violent countries. Unbalancing power dynamics too quickly in El Salvador could provoke a violent and destabilizing response....

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