Saturday, November 28, 2009

How Popular is Mel Zelaya and his Call for Constitutional Reforms?

Most of the media claims that the presidential election scheduled in Honduras for this Sunday, Nov. 28, is between two conservative candidates, Pepe Lobo (Nationalist) and Elvin Santos (Liberal). While it is true that Pepe Lobo is ahead in the polls with a double digit lead, there are three other candidates in the running as well. One of these candidates is Cesar Ham of the Union Democracia (UD). Mr. Ham is a leftwing candidate and a supporter of Mel Zelaya. In fact, his party's platform calls for the constituent assembly as espoused by Zelaya to re-write the Honduran constitution.

Of the five candidates running in the election, Mr Ham and the UD is the only leftist option. The moderate and conservative votes will necessarily be split between the other four candidates with Mr. Ham free to attract all of Comandante Cowboy's leftist and populists supporters for his UD party. Thus, his success in Sunday's polls can be seen as a proxy for Mel's support and whether there is a grassroots desire for a constituent assembly.

If Cesar Ham garners 40-50% of the votes, then it will be obvious that Mel had genuinely appealed to the people and that they support his agenda of constitutional change, Alba, and moving Honduras into the Chavez/Castro orbit. If Mr. Ham wins less than 5-10% of the vote, then that will say volumes as to Mel's popularity and grassroots support.

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