We recently wrote about the curious way Proceso Digital chooses to cover LIBRE and the candidacy of Xiomara Castro de Zelaya. Their item, which really should have been labeled an opinion piece, is hysterical. Not hysterical funny, mind you: hysterical standing in a parking lot and screaming hysterical.
The screaming starts below the digital fold, in paragraph 8 (all of the bold-faced type and italics that follow are in the original; no emphasis has been added):
Libre and its mini-competitor, the UD-Faper alliance, have in common their support for 21st century socialism, their position against the system, and their hatred of what they call the “poderes fácticos” [roughly, powers that be], promising to push for a constitutional assembly that will succeed in changing the present “state of things”.
They are also followers of the departed ex-president Hugo Chavéz and of his successor Nicolás Maduro and the rest of the governments of the Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas (Alba).
Oh my. 21st century socialism, bringing Chavez back from the dead, no less. Amazingly, the article gets more over-wrought. A final section headlined simply "Institutions" reads in full:
Polls underline that on the level of party membership, the National Party is the party with the most backing, followed by the Liberal and in a distant third place, Libre.
But that membership has to awaken partisan fervor of followers that must translate itself into an intention to vote.
In any case, the Honduran center right will participate in elections where for the first time its supremacy is endangered along with the future of the century-old political system of two parties and support for the system.
The division of the center right vote, as occurred in Venezuela and Nicaragua, could give place to the rise and consolidation of the left and of a hegemonic model that they will create afterward with the same tools of power.
The apocalypse is apparently coming, unless the forces of center right stability get motivated and turn out.
This would be funny if it weren't that it is acceptable as "news" in Honduras' most modern news medium.
The hysteria here would be merely curious if it were not part of a concerted reactionary press attempt to understate what the viability of the candidacy of Xiomara Castro-- and the less viable, but still much stronger than expected candidacy of Salvador Nasralla-- actually is telling us about the Honduran political landscape.
Yes, party membership is highest in the two traditional parties. But recent polling by the Honduran NGO CESPAD indicates that only 58% of Partido Nacional members, and only 50% of Liberal Party members, intend to vote for their party's nominee. CESPAD describes this as a "rupture" of traditional party loyalty, with only 31% of those polled in July saying they would not think of voting outside their declared party.
It isn't a mystery why things are changing, either. CESPAD July polling included two amazing responses to questions about what respondents feel needs to happen. Almost three quarters-- 72.9%-- responded that changes needed to be "radical and in all areas".
Seventy-five percent of respondents said they wanted to see a new Constitutional Assembly write a new Constitution for Honduras. CESPAD notes these respondents are not a uniform ideological block: rather, support for radical change, crystallized in the desire for a new constitution, crosses the spectrum of those they polled.
Will one of the two traditional parties win this election? Maybe. After all, there are pragmatics involved in getting out the vote, in poll watching, in making sure your voters are motivated and not intimidated. But it is not a sure thing, and that is legitimate news.
The least likely thing we would expect is any flight back to the traditional Liberal Party by LIBRE supporters, seeing their candidate in the lead. Yet making that claim is another of the strategies Proceso Digital is trying out in their advocacy against the electoral flow, masquerading as news.
Just before they broke out into bold face and italicized attempts to attach a corpse to Xiomara Castro, Proceso Digital's anonymous writer produced this extraordinary paragraph:
The polls support analysts in that the electoral tent of the traditional left, fused with those that abandoned the Partido Liberal, makes up approximately 25-30% [of the electorate]. A base that in recent days has moved, with massive returns of LIBRE supporters to the white-and-red hosts [a reference to the Liberal Party colors, vs. the red and black of LIBRE].
Talk about burying your lede! Massive defections from LIBRE to Mauricio Villeda's candidacy? please, tell me more! Starting with your source for this actual news item?
The same claim was published in an article on September 14 in El Heraldo. There, it has a source: the Liberal Party, which says that between 500 and 1500 party activists will soon be announced as returning to the fold, having not found LIBRE congenial.
"Massive returns" is, obviously, not quantified. But even in the diminished Liberal Party, 1500 people is hardly "massive".
As we previously reported, 31% of the electorate is not registered with any party. The Partido Nacional reportedly was the choice of 32%, LIBRE of 14%, and the Partido Liberal, 15% of the electorate. During the last election cycle, the electorate was projected at about 4.3 million eligible voters (only 2.1 million actually cast votes). That would put Liberal Party membership somewhere upwards of 600,000. If 1500 party activists shift from LIBRE back to the Partido Liberal, that would be a net gain of around-- well, let's say rather less than 1%, at the expense of a similar minuscule percentage of LIBRE's membership.
But it sure sounds good, doesn't it? especially when Liberal Party officials explain that these returnees were distressed, not by their inability to achieve prominent leadership positions, but because they were shocked to realize that LIBRE had an "ideology of the extreme and radical left".
The real news here is and remains that a third party in Honduras has managed to equal the membership of one of the two traditional parties, and is currently polling in the lead of all parties. Whether LIBRE or the Anti-Corruption Party wins the election, the level of support they have gained is evidence that the dissatisfied Honduran electorate has found a new way to express its disenchantment-- not just refraining from voting, but aspiring to vote for insurgent candidates and parties.
Which is indeed a menace to the status quo.
I think, given the likelihood of a LIBRE or at least Xiomara win, and the consequent threat of a new 'socialistic' constitution that rolls back Neoliberalism and resource-grabbing, that a military coup to 'protect' democracy, as we've seen many times in the past, is a real possibility, either before or after elections. I have heard fear-mongering involving civil war (what LIBRE will do when it massively loses and then calls foul...) but I think this is not possible and is, actually, propagated to scare people into accepting a coup. We shall see.
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