There have been three opinion polls conducted in Honduras to gauge popular support for the country’s presidential candidates; the main ones being Juan Orlando Hernández, Salvador Nasralla, Mauricio Villeda, and Xiomara Castro de Zelaya. In January, CID Gallup published the results of the first poll, which showed Mrs. Zelaya on top with 25 percent, followed by Congressman Hernández with 23 percent, Mr. Nasralla with 18 percent, and Mr. Villeda with 16 percent.
In April, Le Vote had Mrs. Zelaya ahead with 30 percent, followed by Mr. Nasralla with 28 percent, Congressman Hernández with 26 percent, and Mr. Villeda with 16 percent. The latest poll taken by Encuestadora Paradigma has Mrs. Zelaya again on top with 19.7 percent, followed by Congressman Hernández with 13.3 percent, Mr. Villeda with 10.2 percent, and Mr. Nasralla with 9.9 percent.
What is most significant about the three polls is not the spread between the candidates, but rather that Mrs. Zelaya is consistently the person getting the highest numbers. It demonstrates that she is clearly a serious contender for the Presidency and can no longer be ignored or downplayed. There is a very good chance that her party, Liberty and Refoundation (Libre), may well break Honduras’ traditional two-party system and turn it into a three-party system.
If this turns out to be the case, it will be good news for the Nationalist Party, which appears to be fairly united, and bad news for the Liberal Party, which has lost a sizable portion of its base to Libre. It’s unclear how much of the Liberal base has jumped ship. But it is evident (by the polls) that it may not be as small a number as Liberals would like to think. It almost seems as if Liberals are purposely deluding themselves.
What Mrs. Zelaya and Libre have going for them is that they are both new, and thus represent a hope for change. While this hope may turn out to be misfounded, it is nonetheless real, and it is the kind of thing — combined with the residual anger over the 2009 coup and fear over the current violence and disorder in Honduras — that could stimulate many Hondurans to vote in November for something totally different.