Honduras’ political background
The political system in Honduras consisted for many years of two big parties and a few small ones. This changed dramatically in 2009 when a coup d’état took place. As a result of this, one of the two big parties split. The political landscape diversified even more with the foundation of a new anti-corruption party. Due to the events that led to the 2009 coup, the country became highly polarized between people supporting and opposing the coup. The results of that are still evident today. In the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was established to investigate the course of events, the need for changes in the political party system and within the political parties are highly recommended in order to strengthen the democratic system.
The approach of NIMD in Honduras
NIMD started to work in Honduras in 2011. The work originally focused on bilateral political party support: based on their strategic plans, NIMD supported the parties in strengthening their programmatic or institutional capacity. Because some of the parties were established and others were new they had different needs for support. For example, newer parties were helped to develop strategic plans for developing as political parties, while more established parties received support with issues such as involving more women and young people in the parties as these groups tend to be underrepresented.
Women political participation
Women in Honduras face numerous obstacles in achieving representation in governance. Violence is one the barriers affecting their access to political power. Honduras has a quota system which required 40% of the candidates in the 2013 elections to be women and will require 50% of the candidates in the 2017 elections to be women. NIMD, together with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the United Nations, is supporting the implementation of this quota by training female candidates. NIMD also supports parties with internal discussions and debates about how to get more female candidates on the electoral lists.
In order to obtain equal rights, it is important to promote strategic alliances among women already in parliament: NIMD facilitates the development of a Legislative Agenda of the Commission on Gender Equality of the National Congress for the development of a ‘multiparty’ Gender Agenda. The four topics discussed and then included in the Agenda are: gender sensitive budgets, violence against women, political participation of Honduran women and access to credit.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also in line with the observations of the EU Electoral Observation mission, NIMD, together with NDI, is also facilitating discussions involving all the parliamentary parties on reform of a political party law. At the same time, a dialogue is facilitated between civil society actors and political actors on the different proposals for reform, sharing also experiences from other Latin American countries that went through similar processes.
In addition NIMD is currently in the process of setting up a democracy school especially aiming at young people which is due to start at the end of 2015.