A New President, and Continuing Questions, for Honduras

A week after Honduran elections were held, with conservative candidate Porfirio Lobo Sosa the clear winner, the US is recognizing the president-elect as legitimate, while some countries in South America and Central America are hesitating. Turnout in the election — which it is hoped will bring stability and legitimacy to the country, which has been in legal and international limbo since it ousted President Zelaya for unconstitutional attemps to prolong his time in power — was slightly higher than in the previous Honduran election (initial official estimates were higher, but CNN currently projects voter turnout was 56.6%, vs. 55% in 2005 when Zelaya was elected). However, some countries (not only Zelaya allies such as Hugo Chavez, but also regional power Brazil) have not yet decided whether to recognize the elections as valid.

While the ouster of Zelaya had no effect on the slate of candidates available on the ballot (under the Honduran constitution he was not eligible to run for reelection), many countries including the US had expressed hope that the Honduran congress would vote to re-instate Zelaya for the remainder of his term. However, the Honduran congress voted overwhelmingly not to return Zelaya to power for the rest of his term, and Zelaya urged supporters to boycott the elections, insisting that any elections held under the interim government were illegitimate.

Brazilian representatives have voiced the possibility that evidence that voter turnout was similar to in past years would sway them towards recognizing the elections as valid, as the US already has. However, it remains to be seen how widely accepted Honduras’ newly elected leadership will be within the international community.

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