Honduras has one law about the elections that I really like. For several days before the elections no political propaganda is permitted. No marches, no cars with megaphones – an electoral silence.
Tomorrow and Sunday large public gatherings are not permitted. The Dulce Nombre parish had to cancel its usual Christ the King Sunday parish-wide Mass.
This weekend sale of alcohol is prohibited.
That doesn’t mean that there might not be conflicts. There are already groups warning about corruption, bought votes, and other electoral shenanigans.
In the past the two major political parties – the Liberales (red) and the Nacionalistas (blue) have pretty much monopolized the elections, passing the presidency between them for more than 100 years (when the military had not manufactured a coup and put their allies in power).
There are several small parties that have often allied themselves in Congress with one or the other of the traditional parties.
This year there is a difference.
There are several new parties, with the most prominent being the Anti-Corruption Party and LIBRE.
A former sportscaster, Salvador Nasralla, started the Anti-Corruption Party which has had some significant support.
But the real new party is LIBRE. After the 2009 coup that overthrew and forcibly removed President Mel Zelaya from the country a Resistance movement emerged with support from a wide range of people, not just the traditional left. A new political party was formed by parts of the Resistance and took the name LIBRE – Libertad y Refundación: Liberty and Refoundation. The wife of Zelaya, Xiomara Castro, was chosen as their candidate.
These two parties have brought something new into the elections.
Mauricio Villeda, the Liberal Party candidate, is probably the one who is most affected. He is generally running behind LIBRE and the National Party. Some believe that the National Party, though maintaining support for congressional and mayoral candidates, is in deep trouble.
The National Party candidate, Juan Orlando Hernández, who was president of the National Congress, is running with a strong emphasis on security (in the face of massive violence throughout the country, especially in the two largest cities, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa). He is in a statistical tie with Xiomara Castro, LIBRE’s candidate.
LIBRE’s support is somewhat surprising but I don’t know if it has enough to win the presidency. In addition, there is a bit of mud-slinging against LIBRE - both here and in the international press.
What will be interesting is to see the results of the mayoral and congressional races. My guess is that that will be a real mix of successful candidates.
My guess is that whoever wins the presidency, Congress will be divided and there may not be a real majority party in Congress. So there may very well be back-room deals to determine the president of Congress.
Now, all I can do is pray and wait.
Monday will be another story.