HONDURAS, December 12, 2013 — Two weeks ago, Honduras held its ninth presidential election since the country returned to democracy in 1982 following 26 years of military dictatorship.
Tensions were high on this election day, because those vying for the presidential sash included several new parties, a first in 30 years, and representatives from all parts of the political spectrum.
The new parties emerged from what some called a military coup and others called a constitutional succession. The incident took place in 2009, when the military removed President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and sent to Costa Rica. The military took action after Zelaya revealed plans to alter the Constitution of the Republic, particularly the articles which prohibit presidential reelection. To many, this was unacceptably reminiscent of the years of dictators.
One new Libre party put forward Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of former President Zelaya, as its presidential candidate. Libre included members of Zelaya’s cabinet as well as many members of the traditional parties. The primary goal of the party was to transform the political situation, which had been dominated by the two traditional parties for more than 31 years. Libre sought to break the bipartisan hold of the Liberal and Nationalist parties.
The contest was intense, and rumors swirled. One rumor said Libre would launch a day of violence if it did not win the election. Many people left the country, and the financial sector waited until after the election to make important decisions.
However, contrary to all expectations, the election was quiet. Despite some inconsistencies, the candidate of the National Party, the former President of the National Congress, was the winner in the elections. Libre took second place, followed by the Liberal Party.
Juan Orlando Hernández, the new president, advocates a better quality of life for all. He is vowing to improve employment and to combat violence and instability. He has also raised the possibility of establishing “model cities” as a strategy for further development of the country and attract investment.
However, Hernández caused some controversy when he was the head of the Congress, because he dismissed the Attorney General and the Deputy Public Prosecutor through extra-constitutional methods.
There is also criticism that Hernandez benefitted from state support and funding, which gave him a large advantage over the smaller parties.
A major accomplishment of the last election was ending the hold of the bipartisan system on the country. Although Libre did not win the election, it made a very large showing and demonstrated that a third party could have an excellent showing. Likewise, the PAC, headed by Salvador Nasralla, achieved strong representation in Congress and several municipalities.
Although some sectors have alleged electoral fraud, the National Election Tribunal, International organizations such as the Organization of American States, European Union, United States, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Spain, The Carter Center and other international organizations have recognized the elections in Honduras as ” transparent ” and valid.
Honduras now waits to see if the President can keep the promises he made during his campaign, allowing the country to regain the quality of life that the economic crisis, insecurity and violence have robbed from them.
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