Elections in Honduras.

 

Five years ago, a conflict of powers in Honduras led to the removal of President Zelaya by a joint decision of the Assembly and the Supreme Court.

The way in which the President was deposed, overshadowed the institutional aspect of the decision, and his removal was perceived -helped by the interests of some and the stupidity of others- as a coup, originating negative international consequences that affected Honduras.

Seven months later, the elections which were set to take place during the Zelaya Government, occurred: Porfirio Lobo of the National Party, became President-elect.

Lobo’s presidential period is coming to end, and on November 24 of this year Honduras once again will have elections. These elections are not indifferent to the rest of the Latin American community, and especially for Central America since the possibility of Zelaya’s return to power is high. Indeed, his wife Xiomara Castro is presented as presidential candidate for the Liberal Party (Partido Libre), with good probability of winning the election.

For these elections, there are eight presidential candidates, and simultaneously, 128 Assembly members will be elected. The two traditional parties, the National and Liberal, are part of the electoral bid, with Juan Orlando Hernández and Mauricio Villeda respectively as their heads. Considering that in the last election, where the sum of both parties exceeded 90%, plus Zelaya’s return, the most likely scenario appears to be decided within these three groups, where Xiomara Castro seems to prevail.

The big news, however, is the appearance of PAC, the Anti Corruption Party, born from the initiative of Salvador Nasralla, an engineer and Honduran businessman who for several decades has made the fight against corruption his flag, with harsh criticism to both traditional parties. The popularity of Nasralla, paradoxically, lies on his television image projected in  sports, mainly soccer (he was the Press Director for Honduras selection team during 1982 Spain World Cup Spain).

His image and his long career in media present and depict him as a faultless person with great legitimacy.

If the surveys and perceptions are correct, it seems that those four candidates are the ones who have a chance -although very dissimilar- since the remaining four parties do not offer real alternatives. Given the Honduran electoral system, which has no electoral run-off, the first minority would have their candidate as President, who as mentioned, it could be Xiomara Castro.

But, with all certainty her Presidential victory will not hand her over the keys to the Assembly, and therefore, will block her attempt at a constitutional reform as the deposed President Zelaya tried to do. It is almost impossible that she will gain the number of Congressional members needed (88 on 128) to proceed with the reform by way of institutional compliance.

 

If these predictions are true, the question is which way will she take if elected since a constitutional way will not be an option. A possible alternative, which  cannot be ignored, would be institutional rupture by way of a popular Constituent Assembly, which the ideologues  of the New Latin-American Constitutionalism call “ the reactivation of the original constitutional power”, referring  to “the popular revolution which cannot be limited by any Constitution.”  

The current Constitution of Honduras contains clauses referred to as "rocky" in constitutional theory. These clauses determine that certain aspects of the Constitution cannot be modified under any circumstances. Clauses of this type close the door to changes and leave future generations unarmed against needs or mere wishes of modifications, which is problematic and inevitably lead to an institutional rupture. Changes may be hampered, by special majorities, complex systems of reform, or for determined periods, but never definitively eliminated.

This judicial and political flow of the Honduran Constitution is the Achilles heel of the country's institutions.