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How to Fight an Autocrat

Dictators seem all-powerful—until they’re not. Those brave enough to challenge autocrats have scored some impressive victories in recent months. But how did they do it? And how could other opposition movements succeed where they once failed?

The following essays from the Journal of Democracy examine the tried-and-true strategies, tactics, and lessons that are allowing political oppositions to square off against the world’s authoritarian regimes and come out ahead.

How Guatemala Defied the Odds
The Guatemalan opposition, backed by the international community, exploited the ruling criminal oligarchy’s fissures to elect a little-known candidate.
By Rachel A. Schwartz and Anita Isaacs

How Oppositions Fight Back
Behind today’s authoritarian wave are democratically elected leaders who use and abuse institutions to undermine their democracies. With the right strategies, opposition forces can slow or stop these would-be autocrats.
By Laura Gamboa

How to Compete in Unfair Elections
Opposition movements often boycott rigged polls rather than risk legitimizing an autocrat, but there are more effective methods of competition.
By Alyena Batura

The Future of Nonviolent Resistance
Nonviolent movements must evolve beyond mass protests and explore alternative tactics to develop smarter, longer-term strategies.
By Erica Chenoweth

How to Sharpen a Nonviolent Movement
Movements using “dilemma actions”—creative protests that make a regime look foolish—are effective at undermining authoritarians.
By Sophia McClennen, Srdja Popovic, and Joseph Wright

The Opposition Wins in Honduras
The Honduran opposition beat an authoritarian incumbent by unifying, organizing its supporters, and contesting every election no matter the odds.
By Will Freeman and Lucas Perelló

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