Honduras held a general election on Sunday November 29. These elections are regularly scheduled elections, held at the conclusion of the four-year term started in 2005. However, in June 2009, the Honduran military overthrew Liberal President Manuel Zelaya, elected in 2005, for attempting to change the Constitution allowing him to run for another term (and holding a referendum on that). Under the military’s interpretation of the Constitution, the President of Honduras is forbidden to go to the people on an amendment to the constitution (Article 374). He was overthrown and replaced by the President of Congress, Robert Micheletti, also a member of the Liberal Party, but opposed to Zelaya. Despite talks that they might be delayed or cancelled, the military and Micheletti let the elections go ahead.
There are two major parties in Honduras, the conservative National Party, which nominated former President of Congress and defeated 2005 candidate Porfirio Lobo Sosa; and the officially liberal Liberal Party, in practice centre-left with members ranging from people like Micheletti to people like Zelaya who hang out with Chavez. The Liberal Party nominated Elvin Santos, Vice President under Zelaya until December 2008. Carlos Reyes, a vocal opponent of the military coup, was initially supposed to run but dropped out calling the elections a sham and fraud. In addition, Zelaya, from the Brazilian Embassy, called on voters to abstain. Other candidates included Bernard Martínez of the centre-left Innovation and Unity Party (PINU), the Christian Democrat Felicito Ávila and César Ham of the left-wing Democratic Unification Party (PUD).
Porfirio Lobo’s was mostly focused on bread-and-butter issues, the internationally popular theme of ‘change’ and also restoring Honduras’ position in the world after the coup. He has also stressed national unity. With his rhetoric of change and ending Honduras’ recent international pariah status as well as the abstention of die-hard Zelaya supporters, Pepe Lobo was heavily favoured going into last Sunday’s vote.
I’ve gotten tired of waiting on them counting, so here are the results with around 62-66% of the vote tallied.
Porfirio Lobo (PN) 55.91%
Elvin Santos (PL) 38.16%
Bernard Martínez (PINU) 2.21%
Felicito Ávila (PCD) 1.92%
César Ham (PUD) 1.81%
A map of results thus far is provided by El Heraldo here, which also has slightly different numbers for the candidates.
Turnout is reported to be around 60-63% by the authorities, which would make this a strong victory for Pepe Lobo and an important defeat for Zelaya, who himself was elected in a 2005 ballot marked by only 46% turnout. However, Zelaya and his supporters have claimed that the 60-63% is in fact the abstention rate, and not the turnout.
With around 23 of the 128 seats in Congress left to assign, the PN has 58 seats against 37 for the PL. The PINU has 5, the PCD 2 and the PUD 2. In 2005, the Liberals had secured 62 seats, three short of an overall majority (65 seats).
Lobo will become President, and Zelaya’s already dim chances at a comeback have almost entirely faded, his supporters have even given up any hope of restoring him. In addition, Lobo will probably drop all charges against Zelaya in an effort at national unity and restoring international support for the country.