The People's National Resistance Front in Honduras says it will not form a party and participate in the 2013 presidential elections because the country is not democratic enough.
Instead, some 1,500 delegates to the first general assembly of the People's National Resistance Front, known popularly as Resistance, opted to eschew elections and push for the Central American nation's constitution to be rewritten, an effort that was begun by Zelaya and led to his ouster.
"The conditions are not right to go to an electoral process," Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, said in a speech Saturday. "To do that would require that the coup-mongers leave power and are punished."
My immediate thought was that it sounded almost exactly like the opposition to Hugo Chávez in the 2005 legislative elections. The lesson it learned was that refusing to participate gave Chávez a huge majority in the legislature and in retrospect was a serious tactical mistake. It also reminds me of the Chilean Communist Party, which had once been very strong, but which rejected any participation in Augusto Pinochet's 1988 referendum. As a result, the party was not part of the Concertación and ever since has struggled for political relevance.
In short, it is a risky strategy in a situation where there are admittedly no great options given the political violence (on top of the criminal violence) in the country. However, to require punishment for those involved in the coup as a precondition for formal political participation may unfortunately be setting the bar impossibly high.