November 29, 2009

Hondurans: Will they vote or stay at home?

I found the following voter abstention statistics at the Directorio Legislativo site:

% Abstentionism
Elected President
Elecciones% de AbstencionismoPresidente Constitucional Electo
198121.46%Roberto Suazo Córdova
198515.95%José Simón Azcona Hoyo
198924.02%Rafael Leonardo Callejas R.
199335.19%Carlos Roberto Reina Idiáquez
199728.00%Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé
200133.73%Ricardo Maduro Joest
200544.62%Manuel Zelaya Rosales

Los departamentos con más alto porcentaje de (Cortés, Yoro, Atlántida, Colón e Islas de la Bahía) están ubicados en la Costa Atlántica del país.

The states with the highest percentage of abstention (Cortés, Yoro, Atlántida, Colón, and Bay Islands) are located on the Atlantic coast of the country.

In a CNN interview, former president Manuel Zelaya predicted grave abstentionism, which he defined as 50%. "This will disqualify the elections, make them fraudulent and will cause the US to rectify their position." − ironic coming from the president with the highest abstention rate in the history of Honduras.

Based on the trend shown in the chart above, the expected absentee rate would be around 52%, but I think it will be much less than that.

Zelaya would have everyone believe that those who don't vote are protesting for him. That is true for some, but others will stay home from fear of the resistance, who have promised violence and have spread rumors of a huge massacre on election day. Additionally, the resistance have threatened to take photos of voters, implying there would be some sort of retaliation later.

Zelaya is trying to use his own and his followers intimidating and undemocratic actions to try to disqualify a democratic election. Will it work? Will Hondurans be afraid to vote? I don't think so. I've talked to people who will vote for the first time in this election because they realize the importance.

I'm also willing to bet that many of the resistance are the same ones who habitually do not vote, so their vote will not be missed. The resistance publicly declared their own curfew including all day Sunday, which, if followed through on, could actually put some voters at ease. Another rumor was floating that Zelaya would leave the embassy on election day, causing an insurrection, which he hoped would cause the elections to be disrupted enough that the 'international community' would be forced to disavow the elections.


The weather could be another factor. Here in La Ceiba (and probably most of the north coast) we've had heavy rainstorms since Thursday, more than 11 inches and enough to cause flooding. It stopped on Saturday afternoon and hopefully we won't have more today. A better than usual turnout on the north coast could make a difference. Additionally, there has been very little violence in the north coast, as compared to the capital, Tegucigalpa, so voters have fewer worries.


Reports from around the country in the days before the election were that everything was amazingly calm, despite the few isolated cases of violence designed to intimidate voters. Most people want the crisis OVER and see the elections as doing that, regardless of who wins.


A couple of last minute statements by the two leading presidential candidates could have an effect on the results. Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party declared that if he wins he will withdraw from Chávez's ALBA, a popular move. Pepe Lobo of the Nacionalista Party declared that he would invite Zelaya to participate in the national dialogue and that when Zelaya leaves the Brazilian Embassy, he will not be arrested. Since it is not a prerogative of a president, much less a president-elect, to decide whether or not someone gets arrested, and since many want to see Zelaya tried for his crimes, this may not be a popular statement among voters.

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