Monday, November 30, 2009

The predictable US response to Honduran vote.

There will be inflated reports about turnout and no mention of the withdrawal of the independent candidate. No doubt the Honduran Congress will now be emboldened to not ratify the agreement that would return Zelaya to power. The agreement has long been dead anyway since the Zelaya side interpreted it as involving the Congress voting before the election to restore him and then a unity government would be formed. Micheletti delayed the vote until after the election and had no intention ever of reinstating Zelaya. The US went along with this circus. The US will be able to dragoon a few allies in Latin America to join in recognising the results and over time no doubt others will cave in as well but there will be a lasting rancorous relationship between the US and many Latin American countries at this diplomatic farce on the part of the US. This is from hondurascoup.

Monday, November 30, 2009
State's Rich Fantasy Life
The US State Department has weighed in on the election results in Honduras this morning, and indeed there are no surprises here.

Honduran Election

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 29, 2009

We commend the Honduran people for peacefully exercising their democratic right to select their leaders in an electoral process that began over a year ago, well before the June 28 coup d'etat. Turnout appears to have exceeded that of the last presidential election. This shows that given the opportunity to express themselves, the Honduran people have viewed the election as an important part of the solution to the political crisis in their country.

Except that the turnout appears not to have exceeded the turnout in 2005, according to the TSE's own firm hired to make the statistical projections and do exit polling. They report a turnout of 47.6% versus the TSE's claim of a 61.3% turnout. Their report has a 2% confidence interval (accurate at 98% level) whereas the TSE's claim is just an assertion, with no numbers presented to back it up. Both sets of results were presented at the 10 pm TSE press conference, but notice who the State Department decided to listen to.

The Honduran people overwhelmingly expressed themselves. Forced democracy where they could not choose candidates who represented them was not the solution for them. It was status-quo or "no go" and they didn't go in droves, despite the State Department's blind eye. Anyone who thinks the election resolved anything in Honduras is naive.

We look forward to continuing to work with all Hondurans and encourage others in the Americas to follow the lead of the Honduran people in helping advance national reconciliation and the implementation of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. Significant work remains to be done to restore democratic and constitutional order in Honduras, but today the Honduran people took a necessary and important step forward.
One wonders what fantasy world the State Department lives in that the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord will ever be implemented. I hate to tell you, but its dead. The ink wasn't even dry on the signatures when Thomas Shannon publicly agreed to recognize the results of the elections no matter what, nailing its coffin shut. You've made half-hearted efforts to resurrected it, but you're not Merlin. Its not going to come back to life.

So what's the likely US policy going forward? We've now recognized the sham election where exit polling suggests that fewer than half of the electorate actually participated. If the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord is dead and buried, as I contend, then I can only see the State Department returning to its practical, unprincipled stand, exemplified by Lew Anselem's comments on the elections, and a swift return to the status quo, a complete white-wash and acceptance of a 21rst century coup by our government. What a sad bunch of politicians.
Posted by rns at 6:09 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Labels: elections, US State Department
Sunday, November 29, 2009
TSE announces 61.3% Participation; other estimates range lower
(Corrected at 8 AM EST) The Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) headed by Saul Escobar, reported in national broadcast at 10:00 pm, that turnout was 61.3%. He also reported they had preliminary, unaudited, results, from about 8,600 polling places (out of 15,300), that they had counted 1.7 million votes for all offices so far.

However, these were unaudited results because the system they had set up to verify the numbers transmitted by cell phone, which appears to have been to make a digital recording of the call, failed, so they have not been able to check that the numbers digitized and entered into the vote counting computers matched the numbers called in by the various polling places.

The TSE is spinning this turnout as just what you would expect given the recent trends, which they said was in line with a 6% per election decline in each of the last several elections, even though this is a supposed increase.

Already, La Prensa reports in their Minute by Minute column a turnout of 61.3 % which would be an increase, not a decrease, from the previous election. This would lead one to expect approximately 2.8 million votes.

So, what does this mean in terms of legitimacy of the election and effectiveness of the call for boycott by the Frente de Resistencia? Even by the TSE's numbers, which are unaudited and preliminary, and don't match with press reports, that's a 38.7% abstention rate.

The TSE had hired a polling firm to do exit polling. They presented a report the TSE conference as well. They sampled 1000 polling places (of the 15300) and reported only a 47.6% participation rate (at a 98% confidence level). This report is more in line with what the Frente de Resistencia. The polling firm further reported they saw a 7% decline in voting over 2005. The results reported by the TSE are based on their sample precincts.

Thus we can expect a great deal of interpretation being projected into the void.

El Tiempo, in a story projecting Pepe Lobo as winner, reported that the TSE had counted 570,954 votes from 4159 polling places "selected strategically to have the tendency in all the country". This is a sample of 27.2% of the planned polling places. While it would not scale directly (since other polling places could have larger numbers of voters) it is curious to see 1/3 of the polls yield only 500,000 votes, and still have claims for 62% turnout, which would project 2.8 million votes overall.

This would be implied by the turnout estimate Bloomberg reports, citing TSE magistrate Danny Matamoros (although it is unclear when Matamoros made this statement, whether before the 10 PM announcement over radio that we report on here, or after). Matamoros is widely quoted as claiming long lines of voters led to the indelible ink running out, which makes him seem rather invested in portraying this as a huge electoral turnout. As in most elections, we are likely to need to wait sometime for official figures, and meanwhile, unofficial claims will likely be taken up and repeated as if they were established facts.

The next thing to watch for are reports of the differences between votes cast and valid votes, to detect any effect from deliberate null voting.

For now, if the TSE projection reported at 10 PM can be taken at face value, there was no massive turnout of Honduran voters yearning to use the ballot box to move beyond the coup. At best, there was a continuation of the long-established gradual discouragement of eligible voters about the worth of voting, which we have previously suggested is itself a kind of unorganized protest against elected government.

But it is also reasonable to propose that there was a measurable effect from the campaign to boycott the vote, whether we use Boz's numbers (and say that about 100,000 voters stayed home in protest) or suggest a different target number would have been reasonable in such a politicized election year.

That the results would favor Porfirio Lobo was never in question. The actual numbers are unvailable on the TSE website as of 8 am this morning, and the website for vitural observers that gave access to the cameras, is not broadcasting images of the count.

So much for the TSE's promise that they had a triple backup system that would prevent any delays in delivering the results

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