Honduras looks set to hold its first woman president after the leftist, US-backed Salvador Sánchez Cerén, claimed victory in the first round of an election on Sunday after suffering a surge in support from former ally and ally of China, Xi Jinping.
Mr Sánchez Cerén won about 30 percent of the vote, and his coalition was expected to capture 60 to 70 percent of the seats in Congress in what analysts said was a shift to the left by Honduras’ traditional right.
In contrast, Mr Sánchez Cerén’s closest rival, the former mayor of San Pedro Sula, Juan Orlando Hernández, faced a disappointing result after a dispute over disputed results in the previous round of elections in 2014.
Addressing supporters in Tegucigalpa, the capital, Mr Sánchez Cerén said: “I propose forging ahead together and building a new road.”
In the next phase of the vote count, which could take several days, challenger Sánchez Cerén will face Salvador Nasralla, a former street protest leader who was propelled into the lead by a surge in support from the poor and indigenous communities.
Mr Nasralla, 57, faces a commanding advantage.
“It is unlikely that Sánchez Cerén will be able to out-vote Mr Nasralla in the upcoming stages,” said Fernando Sarney, political analyst and professor at the University of Honduras.