A week after apparently losing an election in which he was constitutionally barred from standing, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, now seems to have carried out a coup (‘autogolpe’ in Spanish) to keep himself in power.
Hernández (known as JOH, pronounced ‘Ho’) went into the election last Sunday (26 November) promising to continue his firm-handed approach (‘la mano dura’) to violent crime. His opponent, Salvador Nasralla, led a centre-left alliance promising to end the ‘dictatorship’, tackle corruption and restore much-depleted public services. Despite growing support for the alliance, Nasralla’s supporters feared that Hernández’s control over the main branches of government, including the electoral tribunal (TSE), would allow him to keep power even if he lost the popular vote. The day before the poll, the Economist published evidence of the methods his party might use to fix the result.
In the last election, in 2013, the results were announced quickly as polling stations submitted them electronically. This time, the TSE didn’t publish provisional figures until the early hours of the 27th. Based on 57 per cent of the votes, Nasralla had a surprising 5 per cent lead. He duly declared himself the winner. One of the electoral magistrates said that the margin was too wide for JOH to close the gap. The third-placed candidate conceded defeat to Nasralla.