What Juan Orlando Hernández may have just done is destroy Honduras’ electoral process. It wasn’t perfect to begin with; there have always been “irregularities” in every national election. It happens in the United States, so you would expect it to happen in poor, developing countries like Honduras.
But the flaws in the process have long been accepted by Hondurans as part of the cost of doing business in an imperfect democracy. But at least there was a sense that the process worked well enough to ensure a peaceful transition of political power every four years. There was a sense that if your candidate and party lost an election, you would have a reasonable shot at winning the next time around. Not so anymore.
Now, most Hondurans are wondering what’s the point of even voting. If the side in power is unwilling to abide by even the most basic rules of power sharing—your turn, then my turn, then your turn, then mine, etc.—then why bother to vote? That side is bound to continue getting stronger, which means that your chances of winning will continue to fade.
Sadly, it is clear that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which is responsible for overseeing the electoral process in Honduras, is no longer even vaguely an independent institution. There isn’t even a pretense of it anymore. It is allied closely with the conservative National Party, and specifically President Hernández. Oh, let’s just replace “allied closely with” with “controlled fully by.” That’s much more accurate.
The TSE has been corrupted and, thus, rendered useless. The deck is stacked against anyone who wishes to challenge Hernández and the Nationalists for the foreseeable future.
The harm caused by the destruction of the TSE cannot be overstated, because now the country has no mechanism to enable fair and peaceful transitions of political power. Think of the alternatives this leaves Hondurans. If you can’t count on a level playing field to play the game, then you’re going to have to invent another game and another set of rules.
The TSE is dead. May as well bury it with all those other Honduran institutions that have been killed thanks to gluttony, corruption, or just plain stupidity.