Honduran Congress will be Transformed

Source: Honduras Culture and Politics

Like many others, we have been waiting to hear what the effects would be on the Honduran Congreso Nacional would be from the high voter turnout and extremely split voting evident in the presidential election.

According to El Heraldo, the Partido Nacional has lost control of the congress, retaining only 47 seats. While that is the largest delegation, it is nowhere near a majority of the 128 seat body.

Even though some results have not been tallied, and the Partido Nacional delegation may grow, it is not projected to have a majority. If Juan Orlando Hernández intends to govern, he and his party will have to work with others.

And if others don’t want to cooperate, they can form their own coalitions and control congress– the body which, ironically, has concentrated power continuously under the leadership of Hernández.

The Partido Liberal, traditionally the other powerhouse, will end up with 26 congress members.

But it is the two new parties that have made a really astonishing showing. There was no necessary connection to be assumed between the presidential and congressional elections; ballots for each are separate, and it could easily have been the case that a voter would reject the traditional party candidate for president (as a majority did reject Hernández) and still give their votes to the congress member of that party.

So it reflects a broader strength of LIBRE that it has the second largest congressional delegation, with 39 members. And, as El Heraldo notes, the real surprise was the strength of the Partido Anti-Corrupción, which will participate in the new congress with 13 members.

Three other long-established small parties, the Christian Democrats, the left-leaning Partido de Unificación Democrática, and PINU, each are projected to have a single delegate in congress.

We can do no better than to quote the conclusion drawn by El Heraldo:

The results of the 2013 general elections break with the hegemony that has been maintained in the last 32 years of democracy by the Partido Nacional and Partido Liberal, and LIBRE and PAC have converted themselves into two new political forces that will have a counterweight in approving the laws and decisions that the new Congress will take.

While it may seem like little consolation to the myriads of LIBRE voters who truly think they won at the polls, only to see the TSE count emerge otherwise, having such a strong presence in Congress has put LIBRE, in its first foray into national politics, into a place from which to argue for changes in the direction the country has been headed.

That makes Honduras worth continued international attention as the new government takes over in January, and for the rest of the four year term until the next election.