Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Controversial elections in Honduras leave fraud allegations, deaths and uncertainty

The Honduran presidential elections held in November 2017 resulted in a wave of protests - with more than 33 deaths -, fraud allegations and the demand of the Organization of American States (OAS) to repeat the election process.
Initial results showed Salvador Nasralla leading the vote count. The lead was substantial enough that a magistrate on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal estimated victory by Nasralla, characterizing his lead as “irreversible”. However, suspicions arose when the trend was suddenly reversed.
The observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) has basically declared the election to be null. To investigate what had happened, OAS commissioned a data analysis from Georgetown University professor Irfan Nooruddin. In his report, which reviewed the sudden change in the results, he states: “the difference in vote patterns between early- and late-reporting polling stations shows marked changes that raise questions as to the accuracy of the late-reported returns... The differences are too large to be generated by chance and are not easily explicable, raising doubts as to the veracity of the overall result”.
Nooruddin goes to conclude: "Based on this analysis, I would reject the premise that the National Party won the election legitimately."
Shortly after the election, a citizen movement was created through social media to call up demonstrations, not only in the capital Tegucigalpa but in different cities of the country. These protests led to violence and at least 33 deaths.
In spite of the street protest and the strong reaction of international observation missions, authorities took 21 days to declare incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández, as the winner.
The recommendations of the OAS international observers to repeat the elections were ignored. Furthermore, the Government advanced a bill to regulate information on social networks and minimize citizen mobilizations.
The political and social future of Honduras is now in the air. How will Honduras embark on new election processes after authorities refused to take into account the demands of opposition parties, election observation missions and the international community?