Despite this data which reveals a disenchanted society, the most recent opinion poll by the Center for Studies for Democracy (Cespad) also finds that Honduran men and women maintain hope for change.
Tegucigalpa. With 73% of the population dissatisfied with democracy and the opinion of 59% that the elections will be “fraudulent”, Hondurans enter the final leg of the electoral process for November 24, 2013.
The above mentioned data are some of the findings of the Fifth Citizen Opinion Poll made public by the Center for Studies for Democracy (CESPAD), July 2013, which also warns that it is also about a fairness in that there are elevated percentages of citizens who are decided that their vote does make a difference and that with it they can produce radical changes in all areas.
For the organization the general elections on November 24, 2013 have the particularity that the politcial crises created June 29, 2009 left room for a reconfiguration of political forces. In this electoral contest nine political parties will participate, four will do so for the first time: The Party of Liberty and Refoundation (Partido Libertad y Refundacion-LIBRE), Anti-Corruption Party (Partido Anticorrupción -PAC), the Broad Electoral Political Front in Resistence (Frente Amplio Politico Electora en Resistencia-FAPER) and the Patriotic Alliance Party (Partido Alianza Patriótica).
SATISFACTION WITH DEMOCRACY
The results of the Fifth Survey by CESPAD reflect a high percentage of dissatisfaction with democracy. However, the highest levels of dissatisfaction were expressed in the period of the greatest deepening of the political crisis (2010); it declines between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, but, facing the electoral process of 2013 this dissatisfaction has experienced a regrowth. 78% of the citizenry, in July of 2013, felt dissatisfied with Honduran democracy.
That data is complemented by the citizenry’s strongly negative evaluation of the country’s institutions. 59% of the citizens expressed no confidence in the political parties, 50% the same towards the National Congress, 49% towards the Supreme Court of Justice, 49% towards the Presidency of the Republic and 48% towards the National Police.
For the non-governmental organization the data are explained, in part, by the fact that the problems most felt by the population are not resolved, on the contrary, they are aggravated as time advances and and solutions don’t arrive or are ineffective.
This theme is marked by unemployment, poverty, violence and corruption. This analysis is strengthened by data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) in that poverty has grown in recent years from 62% (in 2011) to 68% (in 2012). In the same way, underemployment currently affects 57% of the Economically Active Population (PEA) which implies the existence of employment with low salaries, precarious working conditions and low productivity.
On the other hand, the population, in the survey, expressed a reduced level of confidence in electoral institutionality. 60% of Hondurans declared that they have “low” or “no” confidence in the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal) and 44% in the National Registry of Persons (Registro Nacional de las Personas - the registry of Honduran citizens). “It is a fact that this attitude is marked by the deficits in the primary elections in November 2012 shown, in a particular way, by the low credibility of the transmission of the data from the polling places and the final results”, states CESPAD.
THE POPULATION SEES A LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND THE RISK OF FRAUD IN THE ELECTIONS
The repeated complaints of fraud in general elections (none of them yet proven), added to the experience accumulated in the recent past primary elections, have implanted in the imagination of the citizenry the lack of transparency and the risk of fraud in the coming electoral round. That is why, CESPAD affirms, that it is “not strange that 59% of citizens believe that the elections will be “somewhat fraudulent” or “very fraudulent”.
PESSIMISM WITH HOPE
The difficult economic-social conditions in which the majority of the population live sets a pessimistic outlook on the path the country is taking. In 2010 just 8% of citizens thought that the country was progressing, but in July of 2013 only 3.2% believed that the country is advancing on the path of development to the benefit of the majority of the population (see the Appendix, Graphic #1.3)
However, when looking towards the immediate and the medium range future there is an almost unanimous belief that Honduras needs urgent changes. That is the thinking of 98% of citizens, independent of their ideological position or party. In all cases they express the weariness and worry of the Hondurans with so many accumulated problems and with the absence of viable, sustainable solutions.
The demand for these changes is so strong that when asked about what type of changes are required in the country, 73% state that the changes must be “radical and in all areas”, 13% think that they must be “gradual and in all areas”, and only 12% believe that they must be concentrated “in the most problematic areas” (Graphic #4). Again, this is independent of ideological or political party position, but it clearly reflects the demand of the citizenry for real, not cosmetic, changes.
THE VOTE, A RIGHT AND AN INSTRUMENT FOR CHANGE
Even though the majority of Honduran men and women show little interest in participating actively in politics, they do value the importance of the vote and the power that it represents. Of all the people surveyed, 80.3% stated their decision to exercise their suffrage in the November elections. This data indicates that the coup d’e’tat, as a traumatizing element and a threat to the rights of citizens, has reanimated the interest of people in democracy and electoral participation.
Furthermore, there exists a greater consciousness of the power that the vote represents in making significant changes in party loyalty, This is rooted in changes in the political culture. In three successive surveys by CESPAD, in a consistent and growing manner, 18% of the citizens have stated that in the coming elections “ with complete surety I will vote for a new option” and 50% have stated that they may change their vote to a party or candidate with different proposals. Only 31% think that they will never change their vote; however this segment has been decreasing from 36% (in February 2012) to 31% (July of 2013).
Finally, for CESPAD the results of the survey are reason for concern because they paint a picture of a pessimistic citizenry with serious doubts about the legality and transparency of the elections and shown a low level of confidence in the country’s electoral organisms.
On top of this is the context marked by weak institutions, a strong culture of suspicion and the persistence of old rules of play for a new electoral process that strenthen at the same time the uncertainty and doubts of the citizens.
Despite the aforementioned, this electoral process represents opportunities. The expectations of the citizenry for the vote as an instrument to make changes in the management of the State and changes in the way that politics are conducted in the country, according to CESPAD.
Last update - Tuesday September 10, 2013 at 00:48