The Long Game: The Opposition Wins in Honduras

Issue Date April 2022
Volume 33
Issue 2
Page Numbers 118–32
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Opposition parties in competitive authoritarian regimes rarely win elections by a landslide, especially where poverty, repressive security forces, and clientelism abound. Yet in November 2021, Honduras’s opposition defeated the incumbent National Party against the odds. This essay argues that the opposition succeeded by “playing the long game”: 1) building a mass-party organization, 2) continually participating in elections, and 3) forging unity through power-sharing. Paradoxically, the Honduran opposition’s lack of international support incentivized these choices and became a blessing in disguise. Whether Xiomara Castro will rebuild democracy remains uncertain, but her coalition’s route to power yields lessons for oppositions elsewhere.

About the Authors

Will Freeman

Will Freeman is a Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @WillGFreeman.

View all work by Will Freeman

Lucas Perelló

Lucas Perelló is assistant professor of political science at Marist College. He was a 2019–20 Fulbright Grantee to Honduras.

View all work by Lucas Perelló