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Bukele, Combative but Popular, May Tighten Grip in El Salvador Elections

“The president has had some outbursts,” Mr. Ulloa conceded, “but they should be understood as such, as outbursts, as errors, and not as a trend, as an attitude, as the birth of a new dictatorship.”

Mr. Bukele’s tendency toward confrontation will be tempered, Mr. Ulloa said, once he has a legislature that isn’t determined to block his agenda. He invited the world to take measure of the president based on how he governs after the election.

“We will be able to evaluate the true character of this government, whether it’s a democratic government serving the interests of the Salvadoran people,” Mr. Ulloa said. “If, on the contrary, it turns out that the president is, as has been claimed, an authoritarian who wants to concentrate power and impose an antidemocratic model, then that will also come to light.”

Part of what has drawn attention to Mr. Bukele is his approach, which can only be described as very online. A 39-year-old self-styled political outsider, the president delights followers by trolling his enemies on Twitter and reveling in his triumphs on TikTok. He uses social media to trash El Salvador’s press, attack the attorney general and declare his refusal to abide by Supreme Court rulings.


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