December 7, 2009 [LINK / comment]
Election in Honduras: legitimate
Voters in the Republica of Honduras elected conservative candidate Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, by a substantial margin, 56%. With a turnout ratio of 60% (better than average for the United States!), it is clear that Hondurans overwhelmingly rejected the call for a boycott by former President Manuel Zelaya, a left-wing populist. There were a few street protests aimed at disrupting the election, but no significant violence. Neither the Organisation of American States (OAS) nor the European Union sent election observers, but there were other foreign monitors present to ensure that the election was fair. Zelaya was ousted by an apparent "military coup" last June and now is taking refuge in the embassy of Brazil. Porfirio Lobo, who leads the National Party, was the losing candidate in the 2005 election, which was won by Manuel Zelaya. A businessman, Lobo (whose last name means "wolf"!) is expected to restore investor confidence in Honduras, which is poor and badly needs increased trade with the United States. See BBC.
Brazil is among the countries whose governments have declared that they will not recognize the Honduran election, because Zelaya was not returned to power before the election was held. Argentina, Spain, and of course Venezuela are other countries in the rejectionist camp. What do they all have in common? Left-wing governing majorities. To its credit, the Obama administration has affirmed the Honduran election results as legitimate, parting ways with those Ibero-American governments, in spite of its ideological affinity to some of them. (!) See Washington Post, which noted:
The International Republican Institute, a group that sent observers and has ties to the Republican Party, said the election was "free of violence and overt acts of intimidation" and appeared credible.
Prior to the presidential election, the de facto president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, temporarily stepped down from power. That was intended to allay fears that he or any elite forces were trying to rig the process to hold onto power. Zelaya, who has called the agreement dead, told CNN en Español that Micheletti's move was "a fake resignation." The big question will be whether the losing candidate accepts the election results, or opts for the "sore loser" approach of Al Gore and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost in Mexico's 2006 election and then refused to accept the results.
Election in Bolivia
Two thousand miles to the southeast, meanwhile, voters in Bolivia went to the polls. Not surprisingly, incumbent Evo Morales claims victory. He apparently received at least 60% of the vote, and is poised to take full control with a majority in Congress belonging to his "Movement To Socialism" party. See BBC.