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Honduras: Election Rules Uncertain, Corruption and Human Rights Abuses Unchecked

Source: Latin America Working Group Education Fund

Author: Lisa Haugaard

Honduras will hold presidential, legislative, and local elections November 28th under a cloud of concerns.
These start with a flawed election law, some elements of which have been poorly or tardily
implemented. An array of presidential and legislative candidates are competing who have allegations
against them of corruption and connections to money laundering or drug trafficking. Violence stalks the
process—15 candidates running for office have been killed. Finally, the 2017 elections cast a shadow—a
close, contested presidential election followed by brutal repression of protests. And yet much is at stake
in these elections, as Hondurans are in urgent need of new leadership to improve basic governmental
services, fight corruption, and protect their rights.
As part of the opposition united in mid-October, the potential for another close election is high—as is
the potential for contests over legitimacy, social protest, and repression.
The principal presidential candidates are: Nasry Asfura, current mayor of capital city Tegucigalpa, for
the incumbent Nationalist Party; the alliance of Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party with vice presidential
candidate Salvador Nasralla, who had been running as candidate for the Savior of Honduras Party; and
Yani Rosenthal of the Liberal Party. Nasralla was the competing presidential candidate in the contested
2017 elections and Xiomara Castro, wife of former President Mel Zelaya, overthrown in the 2009 coup,
was his running mate.

Shaky Electoral Mechanics
After the flawed 2017 elections, the urgency for electoral reform was clear. Yet the process stalled for
years and the new electoral law was only passed in May 2021, after the primaries took place. The new
law has some improvements, including by establishing a quick count transmission from voting centers,
important given the lack of trust in transmission of votes. But the new law notably falls short on several
counts, including by its omission of a second round of voting to avoid candidates winning with less than
majority support and failure to limit participation by corrupt candidates (it permits candidates with
corruption charges, but not convictions in Honduran courts, to run).
As the law was passed so close to the elections, some key elements may not be fully implemented.
There are increasing concerns that the quick count will not be fully set up. Fraud can take place
between the time the voting centers close and the votes are counted and transmitted, with counting
likely to go late into the night when most observers leave. Another major concern is that many voters
have not received their new ID cards, with at least 500,000 not delivered as of November 8th, raising the
possibility that considerable numbers of people will not be able to vote November 28th. In addition, a
separate law to resolve electoral disputes has not yet been passed