Nayib Bukele wins El Salvador presidential elections


A former mayor of San Salvador was on Sunday declared victorious in the El Salvador presidential election as he defeated the candidates of the two main parties that have dominated the Central American country’s politics for decades.

As the ballot count entered the last phase, Nayib Bukele, 37, had already bagged nearly 54 percent of the total votes polled in the presidential race, Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) chief Julio Olivo said, adding the election results marked a definitive and irreversible trend.

Olivo said votes were counted from 88 percent of polling stations and Bukele of the Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) had polled 1,254,207 votes (53.78 percent), followed by Carlos Calleja of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) with 737,412 votes (31.62 percent).

Hugo Martinez of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) was placed third with 321,274 votes (13.77 percent).

The winner needed at least 51 percent of votes to avoid the second round ballot.

The final results, according to Olivio, were likely to be announced within two days.

Bukele, a businessman who was the mayor of the capital from 2015 to 2018, had contested election as an anti-corruption crusader, vowing to curb graft and combat high rates of crime in the country.

El Salvador’s politics had so far been dominated by two main parties - the incumbent left-wing FMLN and the ARENA - in the past three decades.

Bukele claimed victory in the presidential election in the first round of the vote count even before Olivo’s announcement.

In his victory speech, he called on his supporters to celebrate the win at the Morazan Plaza in San Salvador.

In a brief press conference, Bukele, who was expelled from FMLN in 2017, said they could say with certainty that they had won the presidency of El Salvador.

He thanked his supporters and also those who were waiting for the results even after he secured irreversible lead.

The Vice President of El Salvador, Oscar Ortiz, acknowledged Bukele’s victory and congratulated him, saying: “We are ready for a successful transition.”

This is the sixth presidential election since the end of the civil war that raged in the country from 1980 to 1992.

More than 5.2 million voters were eligible to cast votes for the successor to President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

The country holds presidential elections every five years and legislative and municipal elections every three years.