Understanding the Honduran Elections

 

By: Seattle International Foundation

The results are now final, after several recounts by the electoral court and independent groups the National Party Candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez, won the Honduran presidency with 35 percent of the vote. Xiomara Castro, Libre party candidate came second with 27.4 percent of the vote.

To many outsiders this election would be a critical point for Honduras. After all, private interests deposed Castro’s husband, President Manuel Zelaya in a 2009 coup and threw the country into disarray amid growing corruption and unemployment. The longtime U.S. ally currently has the world’s highest homicide rate and has become the midpoint for all cocaine shipments headed to the global north.

Local and international observers described the situation as tense running up to the election. Many Libre party supporters were threatened and intimidated. However, the day of the election voting was massive and relatively peaceful. Few reports came in after hours of harassment and fights that resulted in a three casualties.

While Castro’s party was very popular with the urban poor and working middle class, Hernandez’s party operation was impressive. His headquarters included a calling center that dialed out to voters nationwide. It was also the only party with enough resources to deploy campaign buses in rural areas and shuttle people to get out the vote. Hernadez also promised 10,000 lempira bonuses and gave voters blue cachureco “discount cards” that could be used in pharmacies and even fast food chains.

In a country where currently 70 percent of the employed population earns less than the minimum wage. (This figure has grown exponentially from 28 percent in 2008 to 43 percent today.) With vast shortages in community drugstores, the cachureco cards struck a chord.

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