Marco Cáceres di Iorio

Sure Enough, the End of Bipartisan Politics in Honduras

On June 27, 2011, Patricia Rodas, who served as the foreign minister under the Zelaya government (2006-2009) in Honduras, predicted that the advent of the proposed new political party known as the Broad Popular Resistance Front (FARP) would mark the end of Honduras’ two-party system in the next presidential election scheduled for 2013. According to Ms. Rodas, the creation of the FARP would represent “the beginning of the end of the bipartisanship that the oligarchy has maintained for more than 100 years.”

The FARP eventually became the Liberty and Refoundation Party, or “Libre.” It participated in Honduras’ general elections on November 24, 2013, and its presidential candidate, Xiomara Castro (wife of former President Manuel Zelaya), won 28.8 percent of the popular vote. This was a tremendous achievement, notably because Libre was such a new party, but secondly because it resulted in Libre displacing the Liberal Party as the second political force in Honduras. The Liberal candidate, Mauricio Villeda, managed to attract only 20.3 percent of the vote, while Salvador Nasralla of the (also recently formed) Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) drew 13.4 percent.

So, as it turns out, Ms. Rodas was entirely correct. Libre has indeed broken Honduras’ two-party monopoly. Now the monopoly of political power is not held by the National Party and the Liberal Party. Now it is held solely by the conservative National Party.

With Juan Orlando Hernández as President, the Nationalists control the Executive branch of government. With Mauricio Oliva as President of the National Congress, the Nationalists control the Legislative branch. Given moves in the past two years by President Hernández (when he was President of the National Congress) to stack the Supreme Court, the Judicial branch is also now thoroughly controlled by the Nationalists. Moreover, the control in Congress is made even more absolute by the fact that the three main opposition parties — Libre, Liberal, and PAC — are unable to form a unified opposition capable of either blocking Nationalist legislative and policy initiatives or passing their own.

Apart from cases in which some of the opposition members of Congress are co-opted by the Nationalists, the opposition parties have been largely reduced to protesting, whining, and insulting. They are punchdrunk. The Nationalists are on a roll and they appear to be unstoppable, which is why there has been talk lately among some of the Libre, Liberal, and PAC folks to form some sort of loose alliance. It’s pronounced des-puhrey-shuh n.

Voilà, Honduras now has a one-party system, led by a tough, smart, and ambitious 45-year-old guy who has no intention of being a one-term president. He will probably succeed in changing the Constitution to allow for presidents to run for re-election, and he will run in 2017 and likely win. Ironically, changing the Constitution to allow for presidential re-election was one of the main goals of Ms. Rodas and her protégé, Manuel Zelaya, prior to Mr. Zelaya’s overthrow in 2009. That was mainly what the whole cuarta urna (fourth ballot box) thing was all about.

Ms. Rodas and Mr. Zelaya have realized their dream of demolishing the two-party system in Honduras, and they will soon see the day a Honduran president can run for re-election. Nice job. Alright, it’s not exactly what they had in mind.

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