How Oppositions Fight Back

Issue Date July 2023
Volume 34
Issue 3
Page Numbers 90–104
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Around the globe, democratically elected leaders are eroding democracy by legal means, a strategy that often averts domestic and international backlash. To counter this erosion, oppositions may deploy radical, extra-institutional opposition strategies which risk backfiring and strengthening autocracy. Safer options are moderate, institutional strategies that maintain opposition legitimacy and work within democratic frameworks, an approach exemplified by the Colombian opposition during President Álvaro Uribe’s tenure. However, the success of moderate strategies hinges on strong domestic and international support for democracy. Global apathy towards democracy can combine with an autocrat’s use of a democratic façade to produce rapid democratic backsliding, as in the case of El Salvador’s transition to competitive authoritarianism under President Nayib Bukele.

About the Author

Laura Gamboa is assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah. She is the author of Resisting Backsliding: Opposition Strategies Against the Erosion of Democracy (2022).

View all work by Laura Gamboa


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