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Dissent and Democracy: The Case of Salvador

Dissent and Democracy: The Case of Salvador


February 8, 2024


In a recent turn of events on February 4, 2024, Nayib Bukele secured a second term as the President of El Salvador with an overwhelming majority, garnering over 85% of the votes. His victory signals widespread approval of his policies, particularly his efforts to combat gang crime, which have led to a significant reduction in murder rates and even days without any reported homicides. Additionally, his administration has made strides in improving infrastructure, education, and healthcare, earning accolades within the country and on the international stage.

However, despite these apparent successes, I contend that Salvador's recent electoral outcome does not necessarily represent a triumph for democracy but rather underscores a democracy in peril. A robust democracy relies on a vibrant opposition, serving as the voice of dissent and the backbone of checks and balances. As the adage goes, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Without a robust system of accountability and dissent, there is a risk of authoritarian tendencies taking root.

Salvador's current political landscape brings to mind the famous quote attributed to British philosopher Bertrand Russell: "Democracy means you get to choose your own dictator." While Bukele's landslide victory may seem like a democratic mandate, it is essential to recognize the importance of dissenting voices in any democratic society. Dissent safeguards against tyranny and ensures the government remains accountable to its citizens.

Therefore, the real challenge for Salvador lies not in consolidating power but in fostering a culture of dissent and constructive opposition. A healthy democracy thrives on debate, diversity of opinions, and robust civic engagement. Societies can progress and evolve through the clash of ideas and the open exchange of views.

In conclusion, while Nayib Bukele’s reelection may be celebrated as a victory for his administration, it is crucial to remain vigilant about the state of democracy in El Salvador. True democracy is not merely about winning elections but about upholding the principles of pluralism, freedom of expression, and the rule of law. As Salvador moves forward, it must prioritize protecting dissenting voices and preserving democratic institutions to ensure a truly inclusive and accountable government for all its citizens.


Miguel Goede

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