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.
The Long Game: The Opposition Wins in Honduras
Issue Date April 2022
Page Numbers 118–32