The two major parties in Honduras are the Liberal Party (Partido Liberal—PL) and the National Party (Partido Nacional—PN). Both descend from the old Liberal and Conservative Parties from the 19th century. Although generally the National Party remains more conservative in nature, the two parties are very close ideologically.
The National Party was in power from 1932 to 1954 under Carías and Gálvez. In 1965, a PN-backed constituent assembly promulgated a new constitution, designated its membership as the National Congress for a six-year term, and proclaimed Gen. Oswaldo López Arellano as president. In the 1971 elections, the PN candidate, Gen. Ramón Ernesto Cruz, received about 52% of the vote and was elected president. Their most recent success came in 1989, when Rafael Leonardo Callejas became president. In the 1997 elections, its presidential candidate was Alba Gunera, the first woman to seek Honduras's presidency. She gained 42% of the vote. The National Party won 54 seats in the National Assembly in 1997, but it benefited from Ricardo Maduro's victory in 2001 and increased its parliamentary representation to 61 seats.
The Liberals rely on their following in urban areas and among the laboring classes and have had some successes over the last half-century. In 1957, José Ramón Villeda Morales was elected to the presidency, and governed until 1963, when he was removed by a coup. The next successes came in 1981 with the election of Suazo, and then in 1985 with the election of José Simón Azcona Hoyo, in 1993 with Carlos Roberto Reina and in 1997 with Carlos Flores, who became president with 52% of the vote. The Liberal Party also won 67 out of the 128 seats in the National Assembly, but its support fell in 2001 when it captured only 40.8% of the vote and clinched 55 seats. Two minor parties occupy mildly leftist positions: the Christian Democratic Party, under Marco Orlandi, and the National Innovation and Unity Party, led by Olban Valladares. Each of those parties won three and four seats respectively in the National Assembly in the last election. In 1997, a Social Democratic party made its debut. The Partido de Inovación y Unidad-Social Democracia (Party for Innovation and Unity-Social Democracy) won five seats in the National Assembly in 1997 and four seats in 2001.
In the December 1996 primaries preceeding the November 1997 presidential elections, the Liberal Party nominated Carlos Roberto Flores. Nora Gúnera de Melgar won the National Party nomination. Flores went on to win the election and his party won 62 of 128 seats in the National Assembly. In 2001, Ricardo Maduro became the National Party candidate and won the presidential election. His party captured 61 of the 128 seats in the Assembly.