El Salvador's Bukele: The posterboy for popular authoritarianism
Here's one country where democracy is on the backslide, and the increasingly authoritarian leader could not be more popular. El Salvador's Nayib Bukele won the presidency at 37, as Latin America's youngest elected head of state, as an outspoken candidate on social media with an affinity for cryptocurrency.
In a wide-ranging interview on the state of global democracy in 2024, Stanford's Francis Fukuyama explains Bukele's crime-fighting appeal: "El Salvador legitimately elected Nayib Bukele as president, but he embarked on this massive effort to simply round up people that he thought were gang members and put them in prison, no trial, no, judicial process to find out whether they're actually guilty or not. And as a result, around 10% of the young men in the country are now sitting in prison. Uh, and it's been quite successful in reducing the level of gang violence in El Salvador by like 90%."
And Bukele's approval rating today stands at about 90%. It's just one example of a democratically elected leader pushing the boundaries of what his constitutional mandate allows.