Decisive win for Nayib Bukele in El Salvador’s presidential vote

Latin America

Presidential frontrunner Nayib Bukele, of the Grand Alliance for National Unity, waves while accompanied by his wife Gabriela before giving a press conference in San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 3, 2019. Bukele, a former mayor of El Salvador’s capital, romped to victory in Sunday’s presidential election, winning more votes than his two closest rivals combined to end a quarter century of two-party dominance in the crime-plagued Central America nation. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Nayib Bukele becomes President-elect of El Salvador after a landslide victory, getting 54 percent of the vote. That’s more than the next two candidates combined.

He ran on a platform against corruption, gangs and unemployment – in a nation racked by violence and poverty. CGTN’s Franc Contreras reported from San Salvador.

37-year-old Bukele entered San Salvador’s Convention Center, a main voting station, a few hours later than planned to cast his ballot. He brought all the confidence, swagger and even the black leather jacket of a rock star.

Young Salvadorans — some voting for the first time in their lives — were also present, many showing their support for Bukele, the former Mayor of San Salvador. “I believe that all of us young people here hope that the situation changes because our country is beautiful and we want the situation to change,” a young student said.

That’s a reference to perceptions of wide-spread corruption and graft perpetrated by the two major political parties. There’s the right-wing ARENA party. And to the left-leaning FMLN party, which had governed the country for the past five years. Members of both parties were arch enemies during El Salvador’s bloody civil war in the 1980s and early 90s.

A few hours after the polls closed across the Central American nation, early tallies made it clear that Nayib Bukele will be the next President of El Salvador. “On this day, the 3rdof February 2019, El Salvador has turned the page on the post-war and now we can begin to look toward the future,” Bukele said.

Once Bukele’s victory was declared official, tens of thousands of Salvadorans poured into the main plaza in the old historic center of the city.

They’re hoping that the man they brought to victory here will find a way to end wide-spread poverty and violence, which have plagued this small nation for decades.