The elections came and went…

 

I didn’t end up going to Yoro with my friend for the weekend of the elections… I came downstairs for breakfast on Saturday morning and told my host mum I was going away with my friend and coming back Sundaybut she quickly advised me not to. She insisted it was too dangerous and risky and if I really wanted to go, she wanted me to phone my parents in England too and ask them for permission – but I knew if I mentioned the Word ‘dangerous’ to my mum she would put a stop to my plans straight away too. I am also really close to my host family and I have so much respect to my host parents, they really are the most lovely people, so I decided to stay in Tegus.

 

On Saturday I headed to el centro with Julia and her host sister – she is only 9 years old and it was her first time on a rapidito bus. Julia had a slightly awkward moment when her sister noticed a sticker on the bus saying ‘I love’ before a diagram of a couple doing the dirty. I guess the buses are that child friendly. Anyway, after lunch and doing some errands I headed home to finish something I had been making for my host sisters – I will post a pic soon!

 

So Sunday came and I safely hid away in my house feeling like if I stepped out of my house someone might run at me and be offended I wasn’t wearing the colour of their chosen party. This weekend was actually the first time I had the feeling that I was living in a dangerous country – nothing is ever written about Honduras without the ‘highest murder rate in the world’ being mentioned, but I’ve never felt Honduras was that dangerous. But this weekend, with all the hype, it definitely felt different (it turned out that, as far as I’m aware, nothing particularly violent happened so no worries there). One of my host sisters did take me to vote with her though and it was so interesting! It was mostly the same as how we vote in the UK – you go to the school where you are registered to vote, go to a private booth, fill in your votes and then pop it into a secure box. But there were a few little differences…

 

1.

 

I have only voted once in the UK (as I was 20 for the last elections) so I can’t remember it that well but I’m pretty sure the partition to vote in was a little more secure than a cardboard box…

 

                     

 

 

 

2. I’m also pretty sure that we don’t have faces on our ballot papers (although I could be wrong, I really can’t remember!):

 

 

 

     
This is the ballot for the presidencial candidates but, in Tegus, they were also voting for local candidates  – and there were a lot. 23 for each party to be exact. So the sheet was huge and had faces of every person. My host sister told me that you have to be sure to pick all 23 candidates or the people that count the votes could easily put more ticks against people they are supporting. I know when I voted that I only voted for the prime minister and left the rest blank – but there would never be any chance of someone filling out the rest!
 
3. To stop people possibly trying to vote twice, voters have to sign their name on a register and also have their little finger painted black – so when they go in to vote,someone checks their hands to make sure they don’t already have the black mark. And the ink lasts 2 weeks so there is no way they can wash it off in time to try and vote twice…
ImageIt’s kind of a selfie craze on the day with everyone posting pictures on Facebook of their black finger to show they have voted… maybe it will catch on in the UK one day!
 
It was really interesting to see the little differences between how the UK and Hondurans vote – ICYE nearly didn’t let volunteers come to Honduras this summer due to the elections but I’m so glad I was here for them and got to experience it. It has been really interesting to see and I have found myself getting really caught up in it, more than I do for elections at home! Like England, there was a TV channel that broadcast the whole voting process showing people across the country putting their ballots in the boxes. I was with my host sisters, host dad and Julia watching as the results began to filter through. I can only think to compare the feeling I had in my stomach as the same as getting my degree results – it felt like the whole thing had been going on so long and there was such a big build up, and so we would know the results and that would be it. I was feeling really tense – I can only imagine what Hondurans were feeling. 
 
Around 9pm they announced the first 25% of the results – Juan Orlando was ahead. And he was ahead enough that it was unlikely to change no matter what the other 75% of the voting population decided – he had won. I went to bed at this point as I felt pretty down about it. I have been trying to be neutral through the elections but I have to say, from my point of view at least, Juan Orlando is not the right choice for Honduras right now. He was part of the government that threw out Zelaya and started a period of political instability. He had already broken the law by being head of congress and running for president at the same time. And he is blue – he will help the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Therefore, widening the gap between rich and poor – which will inevitably cause more instability and violence; which is exactly what Honduras doesn’t need. I can’t say who would have been better for Honduras but I feel the result of the election will not bring good things for this beautiful country. Juan Orlando insists he will ensure more security by putting a policeman or solider ‘on ever cornor’ – but with it being commonly known police are often corrupt and soliders demonstrating excessive violence, I can’t help but think this isn’t a step in the right direction. 
 

Another issue I have with the elections in Honduras is the margin that the leading party needs to win – in the UK, the leading party needs at least 50% of the vote to win. This can be awkward, especially as in the last elections we had 3 strong parties instead of 2, so we now have a coalition – which hasn’t been all that successful. But at least the winning party, or coalition, has the majority. Honduras’ system requires the winning party to lead by only 1%! So, for example, if there were only two parties running and one got 51% while the other 49% – despite this tiny difference, the party with only 2% would win. Obviously there were a lot more parties than 2 running for presidency, 8 to be exact. In the end (from 70% of the vote) Juan Orlando won with 34% of the vote. So that means that only 34% of the voting population want him as their next leader – a huge 66% don’t want to be lead by him. That makes no sense to me – how can someone effectively run a country when the majority of it’s people don’t agree with their policies. That is just how I see it anyway, I’m sure many people would question how the UK run their elections too… 

In the end, after many people predicted the main losing party would do something drastic, there were some demonstrations by the Libre party the day after the elections, but only a few and they were mostly peaceful. It was safe to go out and live life normally again. So me and Julia headed off to City Mall and went by amarillo bus – the bus that is only 4 lempiras and so has quite poor people on it usually. I noticed that I couldn’t see anyone witha blackend finger, to show they’d voted. I was really surprised by this, as after the build up to the elections, I assumed that a huge number of people would vote. I asked my host family that evening and they told me that, in the end, just under 2 million people voted. The population of Honduras is 8 million, with around 5 million registered to vote (it has a very young population so many are under voting age). They said this was a good turn out and the highest they had had – but to me it seemed low after how passionate everyone seemed about the next leader. But my family told me that, due to the high level of poverty in Honduras many people don’t have the means to get to the voting polls, the education to realise voting can change their country or the knowledge to know who to vote for. I think this is really sad as the people who need help the most are failing to have influence on their country’s politics – it is also likely that, if this people did vote, they would likely not vote for Juan Orlando’s party. They would vote for a party that would do more for those in poverty. 

So those are my views on the elections – I really tried to be impartial during them but it’s difficult not to get swept up in the drama of it all. Today, all anyone can talk about in my project is the elections. The director even told them off for talking to much and not working! But people are so passionate about politics here, which is great – it’s such a shame their new leader is someone only a third of them want. 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s