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Honduras Elects First Female President; Study Shows How Protests Affect Change

December 2, 2021

Hondurans cast their votes in the presidential election over the weekend, and the majority decided to elect opposition candidate Xiomara Castro to lead the Central American country. Nasry Asfura, the candidate from the incumbent National Party, conceded defeat and congratulated Castro, who will become the country's first female president.

A recently published study by sociology Professor Paul Almeida and colleagues at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the University of El Salvador (UES) gives insight into how the election result in Honduras was possible.

The study entitled "Protest Waves and Social Movement Fields: The Micro Foundations of Campaigning for Subaltern Political Parties," published in October in the journal Social Problems, surveyed participants in the 2014 May Day parades in the Central American capital cities of San José, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa in relation to their participation in subaltern party election campaigning.

The three countries offered opportune cases, as presidential elections had taken place a few months before the May Day surveys were implemented, and the left political parties made historically strong showings in all three countries. The data included hundreds of supporters of Castro's LIBRE party in Honduras.

The research team found that people who participated in past social movement-type activities and civic organizations were more likely to volunteer and campaign for progressive political parties, including the LIBRE party of Honduras. The findings also suggest that left parties, at times, overcome economic and political resource deficits by recruiting individuals deeply embedded in the social movement field. Some of these individuals come from labor unions, community-based organizations and environmental groups, among others.

"Since the data was collected, Honduras experienced another major protest campaign against the privatization of health care and education in 2019. Hundreds of thousands of citizens successfully mobilized against the government's privatization efforts," Almeida explained. "This new wave of anti-neoliberal organization and mobilization likely provided the people-centered and volunteer resources to get out the vote for Castro's LIBRE party these past few months to make up for the lack of financial campaign resources used by the elite and traditional political parties."

The full text of the study is available online.