|2013 Honduras presidential ballot|
Guest Blog by Jorge Gallardo Rius
The two leading contenders in the Honduran Election of 2013 have based their winning strategies on fear.
The leading contender according to recent polls, Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party, has identified himself with hawkish views and promotes his candidacy by harking on fear of the extreme left. While the leading leftist contender, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of deposed ex-president Zelaya and openly supported by South American ex-presidents, is promoting the fear of military repression.
The big issue for Mr. Hernandez at this point is trying to make permanent a military police that was originally slated as temporary while the crime rate remained high. They argue that the extreme left wants this force to disappear. Whereas, the Libre Party supporters went to the US Congress and tried to turn a land dispute into a case of state repression and a sign that the election process was tainted in order to strengthen their followers’ anti-constitutional beliefs.
The use of these fears as campaign themes is probably the result of an analysis of the mind frame of Hondurans after the events of 2009 in which a left-right polarization came to be, and the intent is to make the center disappear as an option to Honduran voters. They want us to believe that there is no center, no real options in the middle, because 25% of probable voters, enough to decide the outcome haven’t decided yet and they just might go massively to the center.
But this fear based strategy has been known to backfire. Initially it was working, but apparently, it was turned on too soon. Many independent voters, tired of the never-ending conflicts, are fleeing both extremes and moving to the center. After 8 years of reckless law-making by both sides while impunity reigns, and excessive expenditures that can’t be paid off, people are now realizing that we need a government of stability and austerity.
In the internal elections, the second strongest party votes was won by the centrist candidate Mauricio Villeda and by making the center disappear both sides are trying to steal votes from this candidate. Mr. Villeda of the Liberal Party, unanimously recognized for his honesty and who, in all the recent polls proved to be the fastest growing movement, may become the one that benefits the most by the failure of the fear strategies and the convergence to the center. He is backed by a strong organization with experience in past elections.
It just might be that Mr. Villeda peaks at the precise moment and produces an unexpected upset.
Jorge Gallardo Rius is a Honduran citizen who was born in La Ceiba and currently lives in Tegucigalpa. He studied in Louisiana, Houston, and Romania and is an Information Systems Analyst. Jorge's mother was a US citizen so he grew up speaking both languages at home. For a time, he wrote a weekly column on Education and Technology for an English-language weekly newspaper. He offers English/Spanish and Spanish/English translations. Sr. Gallardo can be contacted at jgallardo515 at yahoo.com and we welcome your comments here as well.