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Honduran elections could turn out to be a box of surprises

Saturday, November 23rd 2013 - 07:11 UTC
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Xiomara Castro is leading a tight race four years after her husband Manuel Zelaya was ousted from office Xiomara Castro is leading a tight race four years after her husband Manuel Zelaya was ousted from office

Four years after her husband was ousted in a coup, Honduran populist presidential candidate Xiomara Castro is threatening to break the century-old dominance of right-wing parties in Sunday's elections.

 With opinion polls showing her in a virtual tie with ruling party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, Castro could also make history by becoming the first woman president of Honduras.

Whoever wins will face the challenge of reducing violence in a country plagued by gangs that have turned the Central American nation into the world's murder capital.

Since 1902, Hernandez's National Party (PN), the Liberal Party (PL) and military dictators have traded the presidency.

“The Honduran two-party system is now the oldest in Latin America” said sociologist Matias Funes. ”There has never been such a real chance (of breaking it) until now.“

Castro's husband, Manuel Zelaya, was elected as a PL candidate in 2005 but was deposed by the military with the support of Congress and the Supreme Court in 2009 after his government veered to the left.

After returning from exile in 2011, Zelaya founded the Libre party with unions, farmers, teachers and liberals who protested the coup.

In the last opinion poll allowed by law last month, Cid-Gallup found that 27% of voters supported Castro, who is running for the Libre party, compared to 28% for Hernandez.

The survey showed PL candidate Mauricio Villeda in third place with 17%.

The candidates are vying to succeed President Porfirio Lobos, who was elected after the 2009 coup in an election boycotted by Zelaya's leftist allies.

”Hondurans are ready to have the first woman president“ Castro said vowing to bring ”democratic socialism.“

”We will set the basis for a real democracy. We have to look at history, what they (the right-wing parties) have done, and we will see what they did against the people,“ she said.

The elections have reopened the wounds of a coup that split Honduras between two groups known as the ”coup plotters“ and the ”resistance.“

Four of the nine parties vying for seats in the legislature and mayor-ships emerged after the 2009 putsch, a sign of the country's weariness of the status quo, according to analysts.

”There is great exhaustion with the political class,“ said Jaime Flores, a human rights activist at Casa Alianza, a non-governmental organization that helps vulnerable children.

”In Honduras, a politician enters Congress without one cent and leaves like a tycoon. This turns off the population,“ Flores said.

While the left stands a chance, Adan Palacios, expert at the NGO called Electoral Monitoring, said the two conservative parties ”continue to be machines that bring people to the polls.”

In addition to a new president and three vice presidents, Honduras will elect 128 members of Congress, 298 mayors and 20 deputies to the Central American Parliament.

The new president will face the tough task of improving security and improving the economy, with 70% of the country's 8.4 million people living in poverty.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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  • GeoffWard2

    i. We see the unions, farmers, teachers and liberals trying to get the Zelaya family back into power.

    ii. “In Honduras, a politician enters Congress without a cent and leaves like a tycoon.”

    Are the two linked?

    Was the second the reason why Zelaya was ousted by Congress?

    How do the 'unions, farmers, teachers and liberals' get their share of the loot?

    Would Sra. Castro-Zelaya stop (ii) if she gained the highest office?

    Nov 24th, 2013 - 11:18 am 0
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