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Gellman on Eroding Democracy in El Salvador at Harvard Kennedy School

Mneesha Gellman, Associate Professor of comparative politics in the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies, talked about “The Future of Democracy in El Salvador” in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Gellman, who joined scholars from the Ash Center and Florida International University, spoke about El Salvador’s 2 percent incarceration rate – currently the highest in the world, percentage-wise – and lack of due process under recently re-elected President Nayib Bukele.

She also discussed how Bukele’s re-election for a second five-year term (called unconstitutional by legal scholars) with 83 percent of the vote is misleading, because only half of eligible Salvadorans voted.

“I did a bunch of interviews in January leading up to the election where people were saying, ‘Well, yeah, I’m going to vote for him because the other candidates aren’t going to win and it wasn’t better under them,’” Gellman said. “These are people trapped in difficult voting circumstances, which some of us here in the U.S. might be familiar with, where there are not good options, and we may hold our nose and vote for someone in a certain way.”

Watch the discussion.

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