Elites, politics and inequality in post-coup Honduras: towards inclusive development? Dr. Sarah Hunt, University of Manchester 12 February 2015

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1 Elites, politics and inequality in post-coup Honduras: towards inclusive development? Dr. Sarah Hunt, University of Manchester 12 February 2015

2 Overview Honduras Pre-2009: Unequal, poor, stable, conservative two-party system Unlikely candidate for a shift left, or for a political coup Post-2009: More unequal, poorer, unstable, polarised, violent Uncertain and bleak future Political settlements approach What was the nature of politics before 2009? To what extent, and how, did external influences disrupt the prevailing settlement? What are the prospects for inclusive development five years on?

3 Political settlement: Honduras pre-2009 Institutional arrangements Bipartisan system: Liberals/Nationals, small parties do not win Alternation, moderation, sharing the spoils: stable but short-run horizons Clientelism chamba public jobs as political patronage Reform negotiated to protect elite interests, clientelism Ruling coalition The worst elites: suboptimal outcomes that enrich elites? Traditional families, but also new entrants Dominate economy, dictate political dynamics through party patronage Accommodation and cooptation of subordinate groups

4 External influences Historically important banana republic US foreign policy/economic interests bolstered authoritarianism and a political settlement that consolidated inequality But also set the scene for change Democratisation, end of military role in politics, regional peace processes IFIs become the dominant mediator from 1990 SAPs: austerity, some reform, old (and some new) elites prosper Hurricane Mitch: disaster relief, aid and Poverty Reduction Strategy The shift left and the role of Venezuela Adds to the general discourse of poverty/social justice in public policy Elites disinterested but the prospect of resources changes the debate

5 2009 political crisis The rise of Manuel (Mel) Zelaya 2005: Mel is a compromise candidate, does not control Liberal party Good economic conditions (best ever?!): debt relief, aid, growth, remittances, favourable terms of trade, and fiscal space Expected to obey, instead antagonises elites influenced by internal Liberal left wing faction and then he meets Chavez Social spending increases => (populist) support beyond the parties, Congress then moves to discuss Constitution Elites (and military) move to remove him rather than waiting 7 months for the election Emotional, furious reaction to a political maverick, fear of disorder Cold War mentality miscalculation of external context? Costly: elites could carry this, got what they wanted, for now

6 Political settlement? Zelaya: Broke the rules Did not obey the established conventions of elite politics Courted the masses, invoked socialism ( Communism ) Disrespected the traditional external partner (United States) Discussed changing the Constitution Elites: Changed the game Short-run gain, maintained control and regained a pseudo status quo through the National Party But at the cost of disorder and violence in society, economic crisis and political polarisation, resuscitating role for the military Damaged the Liberal Party and bipartisanship, 2 new political parties: Libre (Zelayistas plus old left wing small parties/tus) PAC (anti-corruption platform led by a TV personality) International reputation still severely damaged

7 Implications Limited access orders can be surprisingly durable even in conditions of high poverty and inequality But also fragile when poor not effectively accommodated New resources and ideas about poverty have political effects that can unsettle the games within the rules International influences: Matter in determining the range of acceptable elite behaviour and in calculations of extreme actions that can break the rules/game Progressive pressures (and resources) are mediated and used by elites for their own interests: but the effects go beyond elites Highlights the need for a relational analysis that incorporates transnational influences on elites, but also on society, and elitesociety dynamics

8 What next? A mixed picture A scramble for power at the end of an era, towards a failed state? Or the slow reassertion of the old norms of negotiation towards a familiar type of elite settlement? Capacity in the current context Juan Orlando Hernandez is trying to broker deals across elites (IMF agreement), patronage for social policy, military to provide order Stability of arrangements still precarious, the deal has yet to be tested Prospects for inclusive development increasingly remote External influences Critical, but lacking attention/ resources (US, Europe, Latin America) Currently favour the consolidation of the current configuration with all of its regressive and authoritarian tendencies Agency and pressure from below?

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