Millions of Hondurans will head to the polls on Nov. 26 to elect a new president and members of the National Congress.
The general election pits current President Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party, who is running for re-election, against two primary candidates. They include Salvador Nasralla of the Opposition Alliance and Luis Zelaya Medrano of the Liberal Party.
Six other candidates are also running, but have failed to pass the 10-percent threshold of support in polls. They include Lucas Aguilar of the Christian Democratic Party, Jose Alfonso Diaz of the Democratic Unification Party, Eliseo Reyes of Vamos, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez of the Patriotic Alliance Party, Isaias Fonseca of the Broad Front and Marlene Alvarenga of the Anti-Corruption Party, or PAC.
Their ideologies range from Christian militarism to socialism.
The top three candidates, according to most surveys, are Hernandez, Nasralla and Medrano. In October, Encuestadora Paradigma ranked them at 42.5 percent, 19.8 percent and nine percent respectively. Meanwhile, Moreno Research placed the same candidates at 46 percent, 23 percent and 12 percent.
Elections for the 128-member National Congress are also being held.
TeleSUR takes a look at the top three candidates in the upcoming presidential election.
Juan Orlando Hernandez
Hernandez is a top leader of the National Party, which defines itself as conservative and nationalist. He has served as President of Honduras since 2014, when he was elected into his position.
The right-wing leader’s election was largely seen as fraudulent by millions of Hondurans after reports surfaced that his political party was implicated in voter fraud. Many believe he stole the 2013 election from Liberty and Refoundation, Libre, presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, who overwhelmingly led all pre-election polls.
Hernandez’s time in office has been marked by the continuation of human rights violations, rampant poverty and rising violence that took place during former President Porfirio Lobo’s tenure. Lobo, also a member of the National Party, has been supportive of the president’s administration.
Hernandez, who played a leading role in ousting former President Manuel Zelaya in a 2009 military coup, is largely seen as an establishment candidate. His platform priorities are security, private sector growth and fighting drug trafficking.
Nasralla is the founder of PAC, which defines itself as centrist and dedicated to government transparency.
Since the 1990s, he has risen to prominence as a television presenter and sports reporter, making him one of Honduras’ most well-known celebrities. He also served as CEO of Pepsi Honduras, ranking him among the financial elite, while teaching numerous classes on business management at universities across the country.
Although Nasralla is a friend of Zelaya and Castro (Zelaya’s wife) and the Libre party, he founded PAC in 2012, one year after Libre was founded. He founded the new group as an “alternative” to the National Party, the Liberal Party and Libre, focusing it almost entirely on government transparency.
In 2013, he participated in the presidential election, ranking fourth behind Hernandez, Castro and Mauricio Villeda of the Liberal Party with 20 percent of votes.
For the 2017 general election, Nasralla is representing the Opposition Alliance, which is composed of three parties: Libre, PAC and the Innovation and Unity Party, known as PINU. The Opposition Alliance is a broad coalition of socialists, social democrats and centrists who have joined forces to defeat the National Party’s monopoly on power.
The coalition’s platform priorities are the creation of a National Constituent Assembly, combatting poverty and government transparency.
Nasralla’s candidacy has been denounced by Alvarenga, who is running a separate PAC candidacy. She has described him as a “crazy” and “misogynist” figure who doesn’t “truly represent” the values of the PAC.
Luis Zelaya Medrano
Medrano, who is not related to Zelaya, is also considered to be an establishment candidate in the 2017 general election.
After joining the Liberal Party’s youth wing in the late 1990s, he and his family members rose to become some of the top figures within the party. An engineer by trade, the presidential hopeful studied both in Honduras and Mexico’s top schools.
Medrano, who has strong connections to Honduras’ liberal business elite, has been criticized for his connections to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, or TSE. The liberal politician allegedly provided substantial funding to the electoral authority for new initiatives during his time as a top party leader.
He has also been accused of supporting the coup against Zelaya, who at the time was also a member of the Liberal Party.
Medrano’s platform priorities are jobs, security and education.