Title: Salvadorian Archbishop Acknowledges Constitution’s Prohibition on Presidential Re-election, but States Supreme Court Decision and People’s Choice Is Final
Subtitle: President Nayib Bukele’s Candidacy Sparks Controversy Amid Constitutional Interpretation
[City], [Country] – Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas of El Salvador’s capital addressed the issue of immediate presidential re-election, acknowledging that six articles of the Constitution prohibit it. However, he emphasized that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has already endorsed the possibility, leaving the decision in the hands of the people.
During a press conference at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Archbishop Escobar Alas stated, “Certainly there are six articles (of the Constitution) that absolutely prohibit (presidential) re-election, that is evident, it is prohibited, but experts, even constitutionalists, say that there is an article that admits it.”
Highlighting the role of the Constitutional Chamber, the archbishop noted that it has already ruled in favor of allowing re-election, interpreting article 152 as such. He asserted that the Constitutional Chamber should be the authority responsible for interpreting the Constitution.
The Nuevas Ideas party has officially nominated President Nayib Bukele for the upcoming February 2024 elections. President Bukele intends to seek re-election for another five-year term, despite opposition from constitutional lawyers and politicians who argue that the Constitution strictly prohibits it. Vice President Félix Ulloa’s candidacy was also announced.
According to Ulloa, once the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) officially approves Bukele’s candidacy, the president would need to request permission from Congress to be absent from office before December 1, six months prior to the start of the new presidential term. Congress would then need to appoint an interim president during the president’s absence.
While the Constitution indeed forbids presidential re-election, the Constitutional Chamber’s resolution interpreted a specific article as allowing the president’s participation in the electoral contest for a second time, ultimately leaving the decision to the people at the polls.
In addition, the Constitutional Chamber has ordered the TSE to comply with its resolution, and the court has affirmed its intention to abide by the decision.
Constitutional lawyers and opposition politicians have called on the TSE to declare the resolution inapplicable. However, the final decision lies with the Constitutional Chamber, which has already authorized President Bukele’s candidacy.
Archbishop Escobar Alas emphasized that the people’s stance on the issue will be revealed in the election. “Maybe if he (Bukele) goes to the election, when the election is made, it will be seen if the people are in favor or not,” he added.
President Bukele, who assumed office on June 1, 2019, and enjoys a high popularity rating above 80%, has garnered support from his allied parties in Congress. His approval ratings increased with the implementation of the state of emergency to address gang-related issues.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Institute of Public Opinion (Iudop) at the José Simeón Cañas Catholic University (UCA), Bukele is well-evaluated. Around 70.8% of respondents believe he is performing well, 72.6% indicated that the president’s image has improved, 97.7% think violence has decreased, and 81.8% credit the emergency regime for effectively controlling crime.
The controversy surrounding President Bukele’s potential re-election continues to hold significant implications for Salvadorian democracy, as the nation prepares for the upcoming elections.