Presidential Election in El Salvador

Feb. 4, 2019 Weekly Graphs

Yesterday, citizens of El Salvador cast their ballot in the first round of the country’s 2019 presidential election. The Republic of El Salvador may be the smallest country in Central America, with approximately 6.34 million inhabitants, but its president has historically been one of the most powerful in the region. To illustrate this, V-Dem’s Graph of the Week will compare the veto power of the president in El Salvador with the powers of presidents in neighboring Guatemala, Honduras as well as with the president of United States of America.

For this graph we usedthe Variable Radar Chartto illustrate the values of V-Dem’s “Head of State veto power in practice” indicator. This indicator estimates whether the head of state is likely to succeed if he/she takes actions to veto a piece of legislation. By ''veto'', we mean either a partial or package veto of bills that have already been passed by the legislature. We compare the scores from 1978 to the scores in 2017.

Two facts are notable. First, at the peak of presidential power in 1978, the presidents of El Salvador and Guatemala enjoyed outsized veto powers--they  could veto with no possibility to override. Second, since 1978 those veto powers have been reduced, bringing them in line with most other presidential regimes in the region. Today, all four countries have a value of approximately 2 to 3 which suggests that the head of state has the right to veto with the possibility of a legislature override by a qualified majority vote (indicator value of 3) or by a vote of more than half of their members (indicator value of 2). 

To learn more about our indicators, take a look at the V-Dem Online Analysis Tool on


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