News / Elections Update: El Salvador, Azerbaijan, Finland

Feb 2024

Elections Update: El Salvador, Azerbaijan, Finland

Author: Will Kinsman and Gaetano Sebelen, intern

El Salvador

Overview: El Salvador’s congressional and presidential elections took place on February 4th, where the highly popular incumbent President Nayib Bukele, constitutionally barred from a second term, ran for reelection by appointing loyal judges who reinterpreted the constitution to allow his candidacy.

Results: President Bukele declared victory in El Salvador’s elections with over 85% of the vote and at least 58 of 60 Legislative Assembly seats, attributing his landslide win to his successful efforts in dramatically reducing the country’s world-leading murder rate and combating gang violence.

Outlook: The Biden administration has moderated its stance towards Bukele, acknowledging his cooperation on reducing migration to the U.S., with Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulating him on his electoral win and emphasizing the U.S.’s continued focus on governance, prosperity, justice, and human rights in El Salvador. Despite JP Morgan Chase predicting an increase in El Salvador’s growth rate and a rise in multinational investment, economic challenges persist under Bukele’s administration.


Overview: On February 7th, Azerbaijan held snap presidential elections. The elections were marked by a boycott of elections by Azerbaijan’s opposition parties, continuing a decade-long trend. The elections also came at the heels of a recent crackdown on opposition media in the country.

Results: President Ilham Aliyev secured a landslide victory, securing a fifth consecutive term as president. Despite criticisms that he faced no meaningful opposition, Aliyev secured 92% of the vote according to Azeri elections officials. Following the results of separate referendums in 2009 and 2016, presidential term limits were removed, and terms were extended to seven years.

Outlook: As a major mediator in the historic conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh, the U.S. will likely continue to take a measured approach to its engagement with Azerbaijan. A long-anticipated Azeri-Armenian peace treaty has not materialized despite recent optimism that it would. Under these circumstances, the U.S. will likely retain a policy of cautious engagement aimed at supporting efforts by Azerbaijan and Armenia to seek reconciliation, while simultaneously partnering with Azerbaijan on other projects which support American efforts to counter Russia and China, including increasing Azeri energy exports to Europe and developing trade routes along the Middle Corridor.


Overview: Finland held presidential elections on January 28th and a runoff election was held on February 11th. The elections represent the first electoral contest in Finland since being admitted to NATO, two days after parliamentary elections in April last year. The elections also come at a particularly charged moment as Russia has sought to ramp up pressure against Finland and increased its efforts to challenge the NATO alliance in Ukraine and the Baltics.

Results: Aleksander Stubb, a center-right politician and former prime minister, secured 51.6% of the vote in runoff elections, edging out Peeka Haavisto, former foreign minister and member of the Green party. Stubb also won the first round of elections with 27.2% of the vote. Stubb has committed to taking a more head-on foreign policy approach to Russia, citing its invasion of Ukraine and other destabilizing actions directed against Finland in retaliation for its decision to join NATO.

Outlook: As president, Stubb will be responsible for formulating a new era of Finnish security and foreign policy that will largely be at odds with Finland’s historic approach towards its larger neighbor to the East. As a country bordering Russia and an Arctic nation, Finland stands to play a significant role in shaping the future of NATO policy towards Russia. Finland also has a key role to play in helping strengthen NATO policy in the Arctic, where economic, security, and environmental factors are accelerating great power competition and in rallying Western resolve to ensure a unified front for NATO in Central and Eastern Europe.

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