Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A twist in the Honduran election: new turnout number

An important part of the news stories about the elections in Honduras a week and a half ago was that the turnout was high -- 62%, according to the coup government. This helped show, in theory, that the elections were pretty free and fair and that folks were able to and wanted to participate.

A senior U.S. administration official noted the "significant turnout" in response to a question from a reporter. And the 'winner' of the election himself cited the high turnout in his speech, saying that the voters who voted for other candidates helped legitimize his victory.

Then on Friday came word that the officials in Honduras were admitting the number was much lower -- 49 percent.

Jesse Freeston has a 12-minute video report
for Real News Network that covers all of this.

If the number indeed holds at 49, it tells an awfully different story than what we heard.

The Miami Herald editorial, for example, had trumpeted:

The turnout of more than 60 percent signals that most Hondurans were unwilling to heed the call of ousted president Manuel Zelaya, who had called for a boycott of the process to strengthen his claim that the elections were not legitimate because he was improperly removed from power back in June.

In fact, the elections easily passed the most important test of all in any democracy by attracting popular support.

I'm willing to give some time for this to all be sorted out; the number may yet be higher than 49, though any higher number now should be given close skepticism. If such a number appears to hold, all of the coup apologists in the media and the U.S. and other governments will have some thinking to do about whether they stand by their assessments of the robustness of the turnout, and its implications for the legitimacy of the election.


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