Ruling party leads in Honduran vote. Army shows maturity by allowing its opponent to win
If the trends set by early election returns in Honduras continue, Jos'e Azcona Hoyo of the the ruling Liberal Party will be the next Honduran president. Despite the fact that Rafael Leonardo Callejas, of the opposition National Party, has received far more votes than Mr. Azcona so far and has greater military support, Azcona will probably win.
According to the terms of an agreement between the Army and all major political parties last May, the top candidate of the party that wins the most votes wins the presidency. The Army recently reaffirmed that it would stand by the pact.
Political analysts here say the Army's decision not to reject the pact was an act of political maturity. Mr. Callejas, the opposition candidate, had the clear support of a majority of Army officers. If the Army had upset the May pact, the Honduran political system would have been thrown into disarray.
On Saturday night, several hours before the voting began, the National Electoral Tribunal, which is controlled by the Army, announced that the new voting system would be respected despite challenges to its constitutionality.
The armed forces were under strong pressure from Washington not to do anything that might disturb the electoral process, analysts here say. It is widely speculated here that Washington distrusts some of Azcona's advisers. Washington considers Azcona arrogant and difficult to deal with, and prefers Callejas. But the Reagan administration's preference for Callejas was outweighed by a desire to present Congress with a successful electoral process in Honduras so that it would justify aid to that country, Ho nduran and foreign analysts here say.
With less than half of the votes counted, the Liberal Party has received the most votes. Azcona is the leading candidate of the Liberal Party. He is running against three candidates from his party as well as candidates from three other parties. At time of writing, the Liberal Party led the National Party 51 percent to 45 percent.
But Callejas, also running against candidates from his own National Party, received more votes than any other individual candidate in any party. Callejas currently leads Azcona 41 percent to 23 percent.
Within the Liberal Party, Azcona is closely followed by Oscar Mej'ia Arellano -- the preferred candidate of incumbent President Roberto Suazo C'ordova.
But many Hondurans fear that both the Honduran Congress and the new president will be weakened by the divisions in the Liberal Party and by the fact that opposition party leader, Callejas, made a stronger showing than Azcona as an individual candidate.
Hondurans are also voting to fill 132 seats of the Honduran Congress.