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Monday, June 29, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

I have not been able to find the exact text for the plebiscite that Zelaya wanted to hold this past weekend. I am curious because while it is widely assumed it was specifically about re-election, I have read references to the fact that it was about holding another vote in November (to coincide with the presidential elections) to select a constituent assembly to reform the constitution.

A colleague pointed me to this story in La Tribuna (a Honduran daily), which noted the following, (Inicia distribución del material para la encuesta.):

La consulta consiste en preguntar a la población si está de acuerdo o no en que en las elecciones del 29 de noviembre próximo se instale una cuarta urna para nombrar una Asamblea Constituyente y redactar una nueva Constitución.


The consultation consists of a question to see if the populace agrees or does not agree to install a fourth ballot box during the 29th of November election to name a Constituent Assembly to reform the constitution.

This is interesting for two reasons. 1) It does not advocate (or even mention re-election-which is a constitutional no-no) and 2) since the proposal constituent assembly would be elected concurrently with the next president (Zelaya’s term was to end in January), then even if a new constitution was created as a result of this constituent assembly, Zelaya would already be out of the presidency.

As such, the narrative that Zelaya was specifically trying to extend his current term via the plebiscite doesn’t hold water.

Now, the plebiscite was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court of Justice because the constitution only grants the power to initiate constitutional reform to the congress. And yes, Zelaya was defying a court order, but if the La Tribuna description of the plebiscite’s question is correct, the situation is a lot more subtle than “Zalaya was trying to be Chávez by extending his current term.”

If anyone knows a source with the exact language in the plebiscite, please let me know.

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5 Responses to “Zelaya’s (Doomed) Plebiscite”

  1. hilzoy Says:

    This article is from March, but it claims that the text is:

    “¿Está usted de acuerdo que en las elecciones generales de noviembre de 2009 se instale una cuarta urna para decidir sobre la convocatoria a una Asamblea Nacional Constituyente que apruebe una nueva Constitución política?”

  2. Will no one rid us of this meddlesome President? « Cadillac Tight Says:

    [...] 2: PoliBlog tells us why Zelaya was expelled. It seems that this doesn’t have anything to do with seeking [...]

  3. Miguel Madeira Says:

    This was the ballot:

    There is thing that I even don’t understand (even reading the ballot, but I am Portuguese-speaker, not spanish-speaker):

    The ideia was to elect a Consituint in November, or was to make a new referendum in november about the Constituint (and, if the answer was “Yes”, elect the Constituint after that)?

    If there is the second case, the narrative is even weaker.

  4. Greg Weeks Says:

    My understanding is that it would ask whether to ask if a commission should be formed. In other words, it would be a non-binding question about whether to have a binding question.

    And in general the worst aspect of commentary on Honduras is that no one has exact language about anything.

  5. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The Exact Text of the Zelaya Plebiscite Says:

    [...] I now have the exact text of the plebiscite that President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya wanted to put to the voters. It is pretty close to what I discussed last night. [...]

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