The incumbent Liberal Party won Honduran presidential election yesterday, opening the way for the party's top vote getter, Jose Azcona, to head the new government.
But Rafael Leonardo Callejas of the opposition National Party, according to the same unofficial returns, amassed a sharply higher total of individual votes than Azcona. This, correspondent Edward Cody of The Washington Post reported, raised the possibility of political instability for the key U.S. ally in Central America.
With two-thirds of the vote counted by the National Election Tribunal, the Liberal Party's four candidates had 519,748 votes, or 51 percent of the total valid ballots, while the National Party's three candidates had 459,447, or 45.2 percent. Individually, Azcona had only 264,103, or 26 percent, to Callejas' 459,447, or 41.7 percent.
The voting in Sunday's election thus seemed to set up the situation most feared by Honduran politicians and foreign diplomats, in which the candidate who received the most votes would lose to the runnerup because of the party vote. Honduras' recently changed electoral law in effect provides simultaneous party primary and presidential contests, along with election of a congress.
Azcona, 58, who ran against the wishes of outgoing President Roberto Suazo Cordova, his bitter rival in the Liberal Party, has already claimed victory.