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Honduran Election 2013: Fear as a Strategy

By: Jorge Gallardo Rius - Nov 19, 2013, 10:51 am

EspañolThe two leading contenders in the Honduran Election of 2013 have based their winning strategies on fear.

The leading contender, according to recent polls, Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party, has identified himself with hawkish views and promotes his candidacy by harking on fear of the extreme left. While the leading leftist contender of the Libre Party, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of deposed ex-president Zelaya and openly supported by South American ex-presidents, is promoting the fear of military repression.

The big issue for Hernández at this point is trying to make permanent a military police that was originally slated as temporary while the crime rate remained high. They argue that the extreme left wants this force to disappear. Whereas, the Libre supporters went to the US Congress and tried to turn a land dispute into a case of state repression and a sign that the election process was tainted in order to strengthen their followers’ anti-constitutional beliefs.

The use of these fears as campaign themes is probably the result of an analysis of the mind frame of Hondurans after the events of 2009, in which a left-right polarization came to be, and the intent is to make the center disappear as an option to Honduran voters. They want us to believe that there is no center, no real options in the middle, because 25 percent of probable voters, enough to decide the outcome, haven’t decided yet. They just might go massively to the center.

But this fear-based strategy has been known to backfire. Initially it was working, but apparently, it was turned on too soon. Many independent voters, tired of the never-ending conflicts, are fleeing both extremes and moving to the center. After eight years of reckless lawmaking by both sides, while impunity reigns, and excessive expenditures that can’t be paid off, people are now realizing that we need a government of stability and austerity.

In the internal elections, the second strongest party in terms of votes was that of the centrist candidate Mauricio Villeda, and by making the center disappear, both sides are trying to steal votes from this candidate. Villeda of the Liberal Party, unanimously recognized for his honesty and who in all the recent polls proved to be the fastest growing movement, may become the one who benefits the most by the failure of the fear strategies and the convergence to the center. He is backed by a strong organization with experience in past elections.

It just might be that Villeda peaks at the precise moment and produces an unexpected upset.

Previously published on La Gringa’s Blogicito.