Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poll shows Hondurans really, really unhappy with country's direction

Hondurans are ferociously gloomy about the state of their country, according to a new poll this month. 
The poll, by CESPAD, a citizen’s pro-democracy organization, looked at voter preferences. The national elections are now a little more than two months away.
It also asked about attitudes toward government, the state of the country and democracy.
The results were grim. Only 3.2 per cent of Hondurans think the country is progressing.  Only 18 per cent think their families’ economic situation is even a little better this year than last.
The poll asked whether the current government was helping to resolve problems, making no difference or actually make things worse in the country.
The last option won - 47 per cent think the government is making things worse. Only 9.3 per cent believe the current National Party government is helping to deal with the problems.
Those are really bad numbers. It’s hard to imagine people putting up with such an unhappy situation indefinitely.
Which makes a couple of the other questions in the poll. CESPAD asked if people were satisfied with the way democracy was working. Almost 78 per cent said no; only 22 per cent were satisfied with Honduran-style democracy. (The 2009 coup is likely a factor, along with corruption.)
Three out of four favoured a national assembly to write a new constitution.
The poll also asked what kind of change is needed - how radical or sweeping.
And 73 per cent said radical changes in all areas are needed. Thirteen per cent though gradual change in all areas is needed and 12 per cent thought change was only needed in the most problematic areas.
It’s very tough to interpret those last responses.
Almost three out of four Hondurans believe radical change is needed in all areas.
But it’s not all clear what they mean by radical change. 
Radical change could be a return to a state run by the military, or socialism. It could be raising taxes and cutting spending, or it could be higher minimum wages and land re-distribution.
Or, nothing could happen.
I’ve steered clear of writing about Honduran politics. What do I know.
But the Nov. 24 elections are going to be fascinating. Voters elect the president, regional representatives to congress and municipal officials on the same day.
The CESPAD poll puts Libre and its presidential candidate Xiomara Castro de Zelaya slightly ahead, with about 28 per cent of the vote. (She is the wife of Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in the coup.) Libre is generally seen as to the left.
That’s a huge change. Honduras has had a two-party system since democracy was restored in 1981. (Zelaya was elected as a Liberal.) it’s hard to know what the end of that traditional political structure will bring.
The National Party and presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernández are a close second.
Hondurans might be divided on their choice for the next government.
But they are sure in agreement that the country is stalled, and big change is needed.

1 comment:

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

The two party system is more than a century old. The parties traded power - but it was always either the Liberal Party or the National Party (except when the military ran the show.)

People usually belonged to one party or another, more out of family connections than conviction about policies. Some of this goes back to the early twentieth century when there were inter-party killings. And so a person was more likely to change religion than political party. The parties were also connected with sharing political (and economic) perqs.

One of the results of the coup (which had the support in the Honduran Congress of most congresspersons from both parties) is, I believe, the breakdown of the bi-partisanism that has ruled the country for so long.

Many see that this is good since it might break the "Tamanny Hall" style of politics that has caused so many problems here and enabled corruption to flourish.