Election today suggests major changes
A total of 5,355,112 eligible voters will go to the polls today across 5,437 polling stations between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time. They will be voting for a new president, 128 members of the National Congress, 298 Mayors and Vice-Mayors along with councillors for all these councils and 20 Deputies to the Central American Parliament. Across the whole spectrum there are around 27,000 candidates standing.
The election could prove to be a ground breaker. For the past thirty years power has switched between the National Party of Honduras (PNH) and the Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH). This election will certainly change some of that and it has its origins in a 28th June 2009 coup d’état.
During that coup the ruling PLH turned on its own president, Manuel Zelaya, who had built an alliance with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and who wanted to end the one term limit of the president. He was arrested by the military and deported to Costa Rica with the support of the National Congress.
But the move split the PLH, and the National Front for Popular Resistance which opposed the coup took to the streets. Later that year the opposition National Party of Honduras (PNH) won the election but the last four years have seen a spiral into violence and economic decline. Honduras now has the dubious record of having the highest murder rate in the world, estimated at 20 murders a day. In this election alone there have been more than 21 killed in political violence.
Manuel Zelaya returned to the country and established the left-wing Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party. His wife became the party’s candidate for the presidential election and started to gather and inspire an eclectic group of supporters to her cause.
The result is that in the last opinion polls allowed on 24th October, published by CID/Gallup, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya of Libre (27%) was running neck and neck with the ruling party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández of the PNH (28%). Way behind was Mauricio Villeda of the PLH who had supported the coup in 2009.
Xiomara Castro de Zelaya had been way in front at the start of the campaign, but Juan Orlando Hernández has been catching up rapidly according to the polls and because no polling is allowed within a month of polling day it is difficult to know what might happen. Suffice it to say that the old PNH and PLH power sharing appears to have been broken. What is less clear is what the result will be in the National Congress. For the first time in a long time Honduras may face a president elected without sufficient support in Congress.
Should Xiomara Castro de Zelaya win then she has condemned ‘savage capitalism’, suggested greater control over investors and an end to the ‘northern power brokers’ control on the country.
There are eight candidates standing in the presidential election and they are as follows:
Juan Orlando Hernández; National Party of Honduras (PNH)
Mauricio Villeda; Liberal Party of Honduras (PLH)
Jorge Aguilar; Innovation and Unity Party (PINU)
Orle Solís; Christian Democratic Party (DC)
Andrés Pavón; Democratic Unification (UD)/Broad Political Electoral Resistance Front (FAPER) Party
Salvador Nasralla; Anti-Corruption Party (PAC)
Xiomara Castro de Zelaya; Liberty and Refoundation Party (Libre)
Romeo Vásquez; Patriotic Alliance Party (Alianza).