On Sunday, Nayib Bukele, the 37-year-old former mayor of San Salvador, won a first-round victory in El Salvador's presidential election, handily vanquishing candidates from the country's two major parties. Bukele, who was expelled from the left-wing FMLN party in 2017 following an internal dispute and ran as the candidate of the center-right GANA party, made history as the first third-party candidate to win the presidency since the end of El Salvador's civil war in 1992.

El Salvador's President-elect Nayib Bukele and his wife, Gabriela Rodriguez de Bukele, in San Salvador, Feb. 3. Photo: Alfredo Zuniga/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Why it matters: El Salvador is a longtime ally and free-trade partner of the U.S., but recent relations have been tense owing to the outgoing government's close ties with Venezuela and its decision last August to drop diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in favor of China. Moreover, El Salvador is 1 of 3 countries, along with Guatemala and Honduras, that together make up Central America's Northern Triangle, which has been a chief source of migrants to the U.S.–Mexico border, prompting the ire of the Trump administration.

Details: While Bukele had led his chief rivals in polls — businessman Carlos Calleja of the conservative ARENA party and former Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez of the FMLN Party — his haul of nearly 54% of the first-round votes avoids a runoff that would have occurred on March 10.

  • Voters were disenchanted by the failure of leaders from ARENA and FMLN to curb crime and corruption over the past 25 years, which created an opening for Bukele to emerge as a fresh, new face.
  • During the campaign, Bukele called Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro a "dictator" and criticized renewed ties with China, but did not make any major proposals around migration. All this suggests that he may take a more cooperative stance toward Washington.

What to watch: El Salvador's population of 6.3 million has been beset in recent years by high crime, stagnant growth and corruption scandals that have shaken faith in government. Bukele leaned heavily on his strong social media presence, including 1.4 million Facebook followers, coupled with tough rhetoric on fighting corruption to win a historic victory. But his campaign was light on details, and it remains to be seen how he will put his governing plans into practice.

Daniel P. Erikson is managing director at Blue Star Strategies and a senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Texas and Louisiana face fresh flood threat from Tropical Storm Beta

Tropical Storm Beta slowly approaching the Texas coast on Monday. Photo: National Weather Service/Twitter

Tropical Storm Beta was dumping heavy rains over Texas as it churned its way inland overnight, bringing the risk of "life-threatening storm surge" and flooding to parts of the state and Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

What's happening: The slow-moving storm was causing coastal flooding along areas including the bays near Houston and Galveston in Texas Monday, per the National Weather Service. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) made a disaster declaration and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency Monday.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,328,238 — Total deaths: 964,839— Total recoveries: 21,503,496Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,857,967 — Total deaths: 199,884 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

Louisville police declare state of emergency as Breonna Taylor decision looms

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Breonna Taylor during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Louisville police chief declared in a memo obtained by news outlets a "state of emergency" for the department on Monday to prepare for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's expected announcement on the Breonna Taylor case.

Of note: Louisville has witnessed more than 115 days of protests over the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, with calls for all the officers involved to be charged.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!