Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Elections in Honduras

The Obama administration is being criticized for saying that it will not recognize the Honduran presidential election if there is no political settlement first (see, for example, Elliott Abrams as representative). The basic argument is that elections offer a way out of the crisis, and life can go back to normal. I have a few thoughts on this.

First, if the administration wants a negotiated settlement, then it has to make sure that multilateral leverage succeeds in convincing the coup government to agree. The worst case scenario is for the administration to talk tough, then ultimately just flounder until the election.

Second, it is true that many legitimate elections have been held under authoritarian conditions. However, in those cases (such as Chile) the primary political actors had all agreed on their legitimacy. So Honduras is not a good comparison in that regard.

Third, simply accepting the elections would be the equivalent of accepting the coup. The essential questions surrounding Zelaya's ouster--illegal actions by the military in particular--would go unexamined. The signal would be that coups are fine as long as you eventually hold elections. In other words, the "poder moderador" model would hold.

Days since the coup: 73
Days until the scheduled presidential election: 81


Kelby,  10:17 AM  

Well if it has Elliot Abrams complaining, we know it's the right decision.

Nell 1:03 PM  

Via Charles Utwater, this news in Tiempo of an upcoming State Dept. visit to Central America "to analyze the current political situation in Honduras" and the application of new measures against the coup government.

Announced by Arias, who mentioned the possibility of the State Dept. group (which may include Thomas Shannon) with other Central American presidents while in the region, but gave no dates or locations.

Arias is clear that the election process is a waste of time and money unless the coup regime agrees to the San Jose Accord, because the results won't be recognized.

Anonymous,  4:46 PM  


You actually think that if elections are held they won't be recognized?

leftside 8:18 PM  

The golpistas are so desperate they are proposing to bribe the people to vote. Show up with a painted finger, get x% off your purchase.

The international community must hold firm and show no cracks.

I have gotten the opposite impression of Arias' stance Nell. I've read Arias said elections could be a "solution out of this crisis."

I predict absenteeism over 50% in the election. Then what?

Anonymous,  8:57 PM  

Then nothing leftside. People who don't vote lose the chance to make their voice heard. Look what happened with Chavez and the opposition.

Justin Delacour 11:10 PM  

People who don't vote lose the chance to make their voice heard.

Both candidates are essentially pro-coup members of the country's establishment. For many many Hondurans, voting for either one is no way to have their "voice heard." That's why the abstention rate is likely to be high.

leftside 2:02 AM  

Look what happened with Chavez and the opposition.

There is no equivalence between the cowardice of the Venezuelan opposition parties (in knowing they were going to get their butt kicked) and the principled stand being taken by the front against the coup.

Nell 4:56 PM  

@leftside: I'll stick with the Tiempo story. It's recent, and quotes Arias at length. The IPS story includes one small snippet with no context (date, setting, rest of what he said).

@Anon: Yes, I do believe that no other countries will recognize the results of Honduras' elections. The OAS would have to affirmatively vote to recognize, given Honduras' suspension from the organization.

Having failed to take several strong hints from the U.S. State Dept., the coup regime is now on the verge of forcing Sec. Clinton to do something she's clearly reluctant to do (or that someone else, like Bob Gates, is clearly reluctant for her to do): formally declare a military coup, which would mean really cutting the rest of the economic aid, and would actually mean withdrawing troops from Soto Cano (probably a major source of the reluctance).

The coup-makers overplayed their hand. They've succeeded in forging a strong, long-term organization to fight for constitutional change in Honduras. They've discredited the Liberal Party for the next foreseeable period as a vehicle for reform. And they've made it crystal clear who supports democracy and who doesn't.

Anonymous,  9:15 PM  

"The coup-makers overplayed their hand. They've succeeded in forging a strong, long-term organization to fight for constitutional change in Honduras".

What nonsense!!

You show complete ignorance of the facts and circumstances of events. Zelaya was attempting to change the constitution and the 3 branches of law in Honduras repeatedly warned him of his illegal activities. Parts of the Honduras constitution were written specifically for "would be" dictators and he overstepped his mark repeatedly.

Tony Hammoond,  11:49 PM  

I disagree with your opinions. Stating that elections will not be recognized is denying the Honduran people their constitutional right to vote. The scheduled elections have nothing to do with the de facto government or the former Zelaya administration, as they are being held as regularly scheduled since 1981. At the same time there has been no disenfranchisement of any party or sector of the Honduran society, as the current candidates for the political parties were elected in November 2008 way before the events of June 28, 2009. Recognizing the elections, if they are held under fair and clean circumstances, will be promoting democracy. It is up to the Honduran people to determine their own fate, and not up to foreign governments to impose and dictate the future of Honduras; especially from governments who talk about promoting democracy. The USG should be ashamed of its stance as far as its current stand on the upcoming Honduran Presidential elections.

Anonymous,  4:10 AM  


Anonymous,  3:24 PM  

I suspect no one will ever see this but it's hard to know what to think of what's going on in Honduras. In general, opinions on this topic are either of the "Democracy Now" variety--"Zelaya's a saint who loves the poor and the coup leaders are American lackeys for Dole." or the other side--"Zelaya's taking a page from the Chavez playbook trying to set himself up as El Presidente."

Can someone answer for me several things I don't understand (I'll try to frame things in an unbiased manner but it's a tad difficult given his apparent affinity for Chavez*):

* What was Zelaya hoping to accomplish by pushing for the referendum? His opponents seem to believe that it was to change the constitutional prohibition against him having a second term but I've been unable (NB: I don't speak or read Spanish so I'm probably not looking in the right place) to find out what *his* specific motivation was. From reading the (presumably) translated text, it's not explicitly spelled out but he clearly had to have something in mind as why back yourself into a corner otherwise.
* Did the country's Supreme Court and legislature really make it clear the referendum was illegal? Likewise, if so, was it clear he ignored them (BTW: I'm assuming US-style separation of powers here which might be inappropriate)? Finally, if the preceding is true (it's amazing how difficult it is to make sense of blinkered statements on either side), was there another reasonable strategy the Army/Supreme Court/Legislature should have taken?

Without understanding answers to some of the above questions, I'm ambivalent on what to think. As a result, it seems entirely reasonable to me to wait for the elections and watch this tempest blow over.

*if it seems unreasonable to dislike Chavez, I'm curious why it's good for anyplace to have a president for life.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP