In May 2021, Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele used his legislative supermajority to fire the country's highest court and top prosecutor. The power grab deepened El Salvador's democratic crisis by dealing a major blow to horizontal accountability. What explains Bukele's rise and the concomitant decline of democratic institutions in El Salvador? Bukele's success relies on millennial authoritarianism: an innovative political strategy combining traditional populist appeals and classic authoritarian behavior with a youthful and modern personal brand built on social media. His emergence has also been facilitated by two broader factors that challenge the conventional wisdom about democracy and democratic backsliding: the hidden long-term costs of democratic pacts and the unintended consequences of fighting corruption.