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Porfirio Lobo Wins Honduran Election, Hemisphere Remains Divided

The Honduran elections on Sunday brought a decisive victory to National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo, winning 55.9 percent of the votes according to figures by the Honduran election authorities. Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party conceded defeat with 30.09 percent of the votes cast. These numbers were consistent with independent verification but a discrepancy does exist with respect to the rate of voter turnout. The electoral tribunal reported a 61.3 percent voter turnout rate while Hagamos Democracia, which conducted the electoral tribunal’s quick count, noted that 47.6 percent of Hondurans voted.

Following his win, Mr. Lobo said, “I am announcing a government of national unity, of reconciliation. There’s no more time for divisions.”

Nonetheless, the hemisphere remains divided on the legitimacy of the elections with some refusing to recognize the results. Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela have said they will not recognize the votes. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Brazil will not recognize the elections “because it's not possible to accept a coup.” On the other hand, the United States endorsed the elections, called it “a necessary and important step forward.” Similarly, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is confident that the new Lobo government will make “every effort to overcome the difficult situation [in Honduras], to fully consolidate the democratic institutions and to obtain a minimum agreement of national unity.” Peru, Panama, and Costa Rica also stand behind the vote.

Lobo’s four-year term will begin on January 27, 2010. As President, Lobo has promised to increase social benefits and create jobs by attracting private investment to a country where 70 percent of the seven million Hondurans are poor.

Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa, a wealthy landowner from Olancho, is an experienced politician and served as president of congress from 2002-2006. Lobo studied in Russia in the 1980s and was labeled a leftist by his rivals, but now belongs to the country’s conservative party. He ran for presidency in the 2005 presidential election, but lost a tight race to now disposed President Manuel Zelaya. On Wednesday, Honduran lawmakers will vote on whether to restore Zelaya to the presidency until his term expires.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: Manuel Zelaya, Honduran elections, Porfirio Lobo, Brazil-Honduras relations

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