October 04, 2022

In El Salvador and Elsewhere, Leaders Find Ways to Break Term Limits

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Erica Frantz and Joseph Wright

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele announced last month that he would run for a second consecutive term. The announcement follows last year’s ruling by the Salvadoran Supreme Court that abolished the country’s one-term constitutional limit for the presidency.

Bukele’s move mirrors successful efforts by other democratically elected leaders to extend their terms — including Bolivia’s Evo Morales in 2017 and Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe in 2005. Many observers criticized his reelection bid, claiming a second term would entrench Bukele’s control over the country and push El Salvador back on a path of authoritarian rule. El Salvador’s previous authoritarian period ended in 1994 after years of civil war.

Limits to executive time in office help ensure regular, institutionalized rotation of leadership.

Are critics correct in worrying about El Salvador’s democracy? In new research, we show that personalist party leaders like Bukele are more likely to try to expand executive power — including attempts to alter term limit rules — putting democratic governance at risk.

Limits to executive time in office help ensure regular, institutionalized rotation of leadership. Term limit extensions, by contrast, can be a red flag for democracy, suggesting a leader’s intention to stay in office by subverting rules established to curb executive power.

Read the full article from The Washington Post.

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