TEGUCIGALPA — In the political civil war that’s pitted conservative candidate Juan Orlando Hernández against leftist Xiomara Castro de Zelaya in a zero-sum fight for supremacy, the third candidate in the race could emerge as the moderate alternative to both.
Hernández is the candidate of the one of the two longtime traditional parties in Honduras, the Partido Nacional (PN, National Party). But Villeda represents the other, more centrist party, the Partido Liberal (PL, Liberal Party). It was the party to which Manuel Zelaya belonged when he was president between 2006 and 2009, though Zelaya distanced himself from the party after even many Liberals supported the June 2009 military coup that ousted him. Ultimately, Zelaya left the Liberals to form the Partido Libertad y Refundación (LIBRE, Party of Liberty and Refoundation) in 2011, and he took much of the pro-labor, leftist wing of the Liberal Party with him.
There are a lot of reasons why Villeda has stumbled so far during the campaign. He certainly has less money than the National Party and the Hernández campaign. Veteran political reporter Jonathán Roussel referred to him as the ‘Michael Dukakis’ of Honduran politics, which is a somewhat generous interpretation of a candidate who lacks the charisma of either of his two main rivals and whose background as an attorney marks him as a colorless bureaucrat on the campaign trail.
The latest polls, which are unreliable and now nearly a month old, show Hernández and Castro de Zelaya tied for first place with around 30% support each and Villeda far back in third place with around 20%. (Polls are prohibited in Honduras in the month prior to the election, so we won’t have any public data before Sunday’s election).
In a week of talking with Hondurans in Tegucigalpa on both the left and the right, many people cautioned not to rule Villeda out. With five days to go until Hondurans vote, here are five reasons why Villeda could still become Honduran’s next president. Continue reading Five reasons why Mauricio Villeda could still win the Honduran presidency