El Salvador’s Opposition Eyes a Long-Shot Coalition to Unseat Bukele

El Salvador’s Opposition Eyes a Long-Shot Coalition to Unseat Bukele
Anti-government protesters carry signs with portraits that read in Spanish, “Innocents. Arbitrary captures,” during a march on International Labor Day in San Salvador, El Salvador, May 1, 2023 (AP photo by Salvador Melendez).

Elected autocrats pose extraordinary challenges to democratic rivals seeking to unseat them. That lesson was confirmed in the recently completed elections in Turkey, as it has been in other countries—like Hungary—across the world suffering from authoritarian drift. In many of these countries, opposition forces have adopted an approach that, while so far unsuccessful, seems to offer the best chance of victory: creating wide-ranging coalitions, with opposition figures temporarily setting aside their ideological differences in the hopes of maximizing their chances of unseating entrenched leaders.

Nowhere would that approach be more dramatic than in El Salvador, where political opponents whose views were so antagonistic that they engaged in a ferocious civil war from 1979 to 1992 may be about to announce an alliance to take on the increasingly authoritarian President Nayib Bukele.

The Salvadoran outlet El Faro has reported that the leaders of the right-wing Arena, or National Republican Alliance, party and the left-wing FMLN, or Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front—the political heirs to the civil war combatants—are discussing a plan advanced by civil society groups to field a single presidential candidate in the country’s 2024 election.

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