Fact Check

Nayib Bukele Reelected as President of El Salvador with More Than 87% of Votes?

The controversial leader with one of the highest approval ratings in the world did just win a second term.

Published Feb 5, 2024

 ( Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images
Claim:
Nayib Bukele, president of El Salvador, was reelected in early February 2024 with more than 87% of the votes.

On Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, provisional results from the presidential election of El Salvador showed that Nayib Bukele, the 42-year-old leader who had been in office since 2019, won by a landslide in a historic second term. Until El Salvador's top court ruled in 2021 that presidents could serve two consecutive terms, the Salvadoran constitution prevented presidents from serving more than one term.

In the hours leading up to the results being released, rumors surrounding the exact percentage of votes in Bukele's favor were spreading across multiple platforms; many claimed he won by 87% or more.

(Image via X account @eduardomenoni)

While we were uncertain as to where the first image above originated – one article by Argentinian outlet Memo claimed it was sourced from Wikipedia two hours before voting ended – we found the number was inaccurate. According to official results, he also did not win 85%, as of Feb. 4, as Bukele claimed on his personal X (formerly Twitter) account before the official results were released.

Only 70.25% of votes had been processed as of this writing, according to the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE). They showed that Bukele's party, Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas), had received 1,662,313 votes, or approximately 83% support.

(Image via El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Court.)

It appears that the 87% figure originated from exit polls; according to Reuters, an opinion poll from August 2023, meanwhile, projected a win of 68.4% of the votes.

While clearly wildly popular among the majority of Salvadorans primarily for his "zero tolerance" policy for fighting gang violence as a tactic to decrease El Salvador's crime rates, his harsh approach continued to raise reg flags within the international human rights community. Amnesty International published a report in December 2023 that found a "systemic use of torture and other abuse against prisoners in penal centers."

"What we are witnessing in El Salvador is a tragic repetition of history, where state violence is gradually replacing gang violence, leaving the same vulnerable communities trapped in an endless cycle of abuse and despair," Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International, wrote in the report.

In sum, Bukele had at least 83% of the vote, with just over 70% of votes counted. Because the Nuevas Ideas party had not won more than 87%, as many viral tweets claimed, we have rated this claim as "False."

Sources

‘El Salvador’s Bukele Proclaims “historic” Victory in Re-Election Defying Constitution’. Le Monde.Fr, 5 Feb. 2024. Le Monde, https://www.lemonde.fr/en/international/article/2024/02/05/el-salvador-s-bukele-proclaims-historic-victory-in-re-election-defying-constitution_6495179_4.html.

‘El Salvador’s Bukele Shows Strong Lead for 2024 Vote -Opinion Poll’. Reuters, 28 Aug. 2023. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/el-salvadors-bukele-shows-strong-lead-2024-vote-opinion-poll-2023-08-28/.

El Salvador Court Rules Presidents Can Serve Two Consecutive Terms. 4 Sept. 2021. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-58451370.

El Salvador Election: Nayib Bukele Revels in Landslide Win. 5 Feb. 2024. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-68205036.

‘El Salvador Is Gradually Filling Its New Mega Prison with Alleged Gang Members’. AP News, 12 Oct. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/el-salvador-prison-gangs-bukele-42315f24691e0a3136d005ab7c0bee6a.

‘El Salvador Declares State of Emergency amid Killings’. AP News, 27 Mar. 2022, https://apnews.com/article/crime-caribbean-legislature-nayib-bukele-el-salvador-7e9bad0bfaca93db044b3cbcf921fc29.

Goillandeau, David Shortell, Stefano Pozzebon, Martin. ‘El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele Set for Landslide Election Victory’. CNN, 5 Feb. 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/05/americas/el-salvador-election-results-intl/index.html.

‘Https://Twitter.Com/RNacional_News’. X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/RNacional_News. Accessed 5 Feb. 2024.

Jul, Por. ? EL SALVADOR | BUKELE: ‘Hemos Ganado Con El 87% de Los Votos’. VIDEOS. https://www.laventanaindiscretadejulia.com/2024/02/el-salvador-bukele-hemos-ganado-con-el.html. Accessed 5 Feb. 2024.

Meakem, Allison. ‘Can Anything Stop El Salvador’s Bitcoin-Loving, Backsliding Leader?’ Foreign Policy, 6 Feb. 2024, https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/01/02/el-salvador-elections-bukele-bitcoin-crime-gang-policy/.

Para Wikipedia, Bukele ya se impuso por más del 87% de los votos. 4 Feb. 2024, https://www.memo.com.ar/runrunes/resultados-bukele-el-salvador-wikipedia/.

Renteria, Nelson, and Sarah Kinosian. ‘El Salvador’s Bukele Re-Elected as President in Landslide Win’. Reuters, 5 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/el-salvador-president-bukele-poised-another-landslide-voters-head-polls-2024-02-04/.

‘Repression and Regression of Human Rights in El Salvador’. Amnesty International, 5 Dec. 2023, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/12/el-salvador-policies-practices-legislation-violate-human-rights/.

TSE. https://preliminar.tse.gob.sv/resultados/dashboard-index-1. Accessed 5 Feb. 2024.

Taija PerryCook is a Seattle-based journalist who previously worked for the PNW news site Crosscut and the Jordan Times in Amman.