The conclusions I’m drawing is that the clampdown on coup opponents Bob is rightly worried about could reasonably be pinned on their violent acts; at least, few commentators consider it profound enough to invalidate the elections. Like New Centrist, I’m inclined to see this election as a triumph of Honduran democratic structures over a power hungry president, his undemocratic ally and neighbour, and the lawlessness and repression of coup. There was a reportedly good turnout (still waiting for news of spoiled ballots) and voters overwhelmingly supported two candidates who rejected the idea of changing the constitution (but there were no international observers). Basically, looking at the news from the concerned writers I trust, nobody is saying that this election has been invalidated by a clampdown, so I’m glad that European powers are recognising the election.
However, there was a coup. Maybe the coup and elections passed off peacefully because Zelaya was the only person threatening the political elite, and he was not doing so in a transformative way but as an elitist, and in a manner which consolidated the elitist, strongman values of the elite. He became the common enemy of both Liberal and National Party. All that was necessary for Honduras’ political elite to return things to (bad) business as usual was Zelaya’s removal. In fact, the coup was political inertia reasserting itself. This is a poorly-substantiated idea, I realise. I don’t really understand how elites with political differences work when they perceive a common threat.
Goodbye and good riddance to Zelaya – now it’s necessary for Honduras not to simply move on, but to bring the coup perpetrators to book.
Greg Weeks, whom I read because he’s above all interested in democracy and law rather than writing as a partisan, has his eye on recognition of the new Honduran government. As a pre-condition, anti-coup governments broadly agree that Zelaya should be briefly reinstated prior to Porforino Lobo assuming presidency. But Congress has voted against this reinstatement (ignoring the wishes expressed in Honduran opinion polls). Nevertheless Brazil’s Lula is acknowledging that the passing of the election puts a different slant on things.
Greg Weeks points to a salutory and reorientating article in Foreign Policy by Kevin Casas-Zamora – Democracy Loses the Honduran Election. Again, who will bring the coup perpetrators to book?
Honduras seems poised to return to politics as usual, instability as usual, inequality as usual, and elitism as usual. It is a deeply conservative country. Where is the left?