The Honduras presidential election: What to watch for

Written by Maddy Fisher, CNN

Honduras will head to the polls this Sunday in a presidential election many believe will usher in a change of government. But with candidates spouting policies steeped in corruption and disunity, many fear that the election could spread the country’s problems.

Luz Maria Davila and Jose Roberto Leon Rocha, the two current presidential candidates and the ones tasked with leading the campaigns for their respective parties, have failed to break the mold of the failed candidates that have repeatedly come close to power in the last decade.

The current roster of candidates also boasts a charismatic veteran administrator, Enrique Peña Nieto, who leads in polls, and a new contender, Salvador Nasralla. “We’re talking about a time when everything can change. We don’t know which direction it will take,” said Sharlene Orozco, a teacher who has lived in Honduras for the last five years.

Despite only occupying 40 percent of the vote, Rocha has the advantage of being the de facto leader following the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is constitutionally barred from re-election.

Hernandez denies any wrongdoing and alleges an opposition plot to derail his bid for re-election. But his high unpopularity with many voters leaves him with little support among the population, which remains one of the poorest in the Americas.

Diana Durán, a lawyer, says her priority is a “re-look” at corruption in the country. “It’s about ending corruption. It doesn’t just affect Honduras; it affects Central America, and everyone from the US to Europe.”

Presidential candidate Luis Antonio Torres Villarreal. Credit: HECTOR BALFE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Battleground states

Battleground states in Honduras are Fermin, Yoro, Honduret, Comayagua, El Progreso, El Carmen, Lavaca, Oruro, Osorno, Ometepe, Chinhat, San Pedro Sula, Resistencia, Guaymas, Aguan, Taloche, Vallegrande, San Miguel and Diquis — all considered important to the future of the vote count.

Davila, who has held her position as the president of Honduras’s congress, has promised to end corruption, free a convicted gang leader and fight gender-based violence.

But voters complain that the rhetoric is too good to be true. “If somebody didn’t join forces with someone in the same party, we would have nothing to go on. In Honduras we already have too many leaders and no system.”

Meanwhile, Karla Orellana, a mother of three who lives in Ocotal, is skeptical about the proposed commission in charge of counting votes in her community.

“At the end of the day, we don’t know how this is going to work. So we will have to wait and see,” she said.

However, there are those who say that those who make the journey to vote on Sunday may be able to have the type of positive impact that critics say the current election doesn’t offer.

At a recent rally in downtown Tegucigalpa, Mrs. Orellana brought her son Eduardo, a recent graduate, to cast his vote. For the time being, he is on vacation at a college in Spain. But his dream is to study in Honduras.

“I want to finish school in Honduras,” he said. “I will be the change that Honduras needs. I want to make a positive change for the country and for our lives.”

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