Honduras is a country located in the region of North America. The right-wing Nationalist Party has ruled Honduras since 2010 and the president since 2014 is Juan Orlando Hernández. The military has continued to influence politics, despite the fact that it has been over 30 years since the transition to civilian rule.
Prior to the last election held in November 2017, opinion polls pointed to a walking victory for Hernández, but when just over half the votes were counted, main opponent Salvador Nasralla had a five percentage point lead. Then the bill was stopped for unclear reasons. When it eventually resumed, the lead was largely wiped out and eventually the Electoral Court (TSE) reported that Hernández had passed away. It triggered accusations of cheating and violent protests that prompted the government to introduce a state of emergency, including a nightly curfew. TSE agreed to recalculate some votes, but the opposition demanded a full recast.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Honduras, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The situation was sharpened when the police refused to uphold the curfew in order to avoid having to take a “political position”. Over 20 people were killed in clashes between police and protesters and it took a few months before the situation calmed down.
The re-election of Hernández remains contentious. Hernández argued for a second term in which he wanted to “consolidate” what he claims are advances in increased security and foreign investment in Honduras. In 2019, new violent protests shook the country, demanding the president’s resignation.
In March 2020, strict quarantine rules were introduced when the corona pandemic was a fact. After almost three months of closure, the community began to open again some week into June. According to estimates, half a million jobs had then been lost or stopped. The number of confirmed cases of coronary infection then amounted to about 9,000 and the number of deaths in covid-19 to just over 300. President Hernández himself was among those infected.
HD decisions open for re-election
In the 2013 election, then-President Porfirio Lobo Sosa did not stand, in accordance with the Constitution’s ban on the re-election of a president. Victory instead made his party mate Hernández. But in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional ban on re-election is not valid – a decision that is politically contentious. It was supported by the National Congress, where the Nationalist Party is the largest party. The opposition, however, protested. When news came then that Hernández would stand again, criticism grew, not least as a 2009 coup was triggered by concern that then-President Manuel Zelaya would try to stand again (see Modern History).
Prior to the contemporary congressional elections in 2013, two new political parties had been formed. This was indirectly a result of the coup d’état in 2009, which shook Honduras traditional power parties (see Political system). Thus, the ruling Nationalist Party no longer had the Liberal Party as the only opponent to count on. The main rival instead became the newly formed Freedom and Restructuring (Libre).
The Nationalist Party could take advantage of the fact that Libre’s presidential candidate was Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the politically inexperienced wife of President Zelaya deposed in the coup d’état. She was painted as a housewife and her husband’s doll. The Liberal Party and the country’s large media also contributed to this image.
Castro himself sought to emphasize the importance of consensus. Together with other opposition parties, she presented a series of pledges to implement social reforms, remove the military from civilian law enforcement and appoint a Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution.
Unrest before elections
Juan Orlando Hernández essentially promised to continue on the beaten path and said he wanted to invest in more police and soldiers to restore order in the country. Before the election, it was uneasy; in 2012 and 2013, murders of 39 political candidates were reported. The election itself also became tense. Both Castro and Hernández proclaimed victors and after accusations of cheating, some votes were recalculated. After three weeks, Hernández was finally declared the winner, with 37 percent of the vote. The turnout of 61 percent was the highest ever. The two new parties had succeeded in mobilizing a large proportion of coffers, but they needed an even higher turnout to win over Hernández. In the contemporary elections to the National Assembly, the ruling party lost a third of its seats.
When Hernández took office in January 2014, it was the first time in Honduras history that a president of the Nationalist Party handed over to another president of the same party, in a democratic way.
In 2015, strong protests arose against the government after a fraud scandal within the social security system IHSS was revealed. A large part of the $ 330 million spent during Lobo’s presidency went to the ruling Nationalist Party, according to prosecutors. Hernández admitted that nearly $ 100,000 reached his ballot box before the 2013 election.
In the spring of 2016, Honduras was shaken by the murder of an environmental activist who was fighting for the rights of the indigenous people, Berta Cáceres (see also Democracy and Rights). Accusations soon came about that state agents, military and employees of an energy company behind a hydropower project were involved in the murder. At the end of 2018, seven people were convicted of the murder: a high-ranking leader and a security manager for the energy company Desa, which was behind the power plant construction, as well as a soldier and four contract killers. In December 2019, the seven were sentenced to between 30 and 50 years in prison (see Calendar). A lawsuit against Desa’s CEO is also expected.
Hernández’s main opponent in the 2017 presidential election was former TV journalist Salvador Nasralla, who was a candidate in 2013 as well, for the then newly formed Anti-Corruption Party (PAC). Now, PAC and Libre, as well as the small Social Democratic Pinu, gathered behind Nasralla in an attempt to challenge Hernández and what was seen as an illegal attempt by him to stay in power. The collaboration went under the name “Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship”, in a clear indication of what the purpose was. But in the end, the opposition did not succeed. Three weeks after the election, Nasralla said he no longer claimed the presidential post, citing the US recognition of Hernández’s victory.
Read more about the ongoing development in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Republic of Honduras / Republic of Honduras
republic, unitary state
Head of State and Government
President Juan Orlando Hernandez (2014–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Nationalist Party 61, Libre 30, Liberal Party 26, Pinu 4, Patriotic Alliance (AP) 4, Democratic Association (UD) 4, Others 2 (2017)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Nationalist Party 48, Libre 37, Liberal Party 27, Anti-Corruption Party 13, Others 3 (2013)
57.5% in the 2017 presidential and congressional elections
presidential and congressional elections 2021