After the third wave of democratization swept much of the world during the late twentieth century, many armed opposition groups disarmed and transformed themselves into political parties. This paper explores the electoral performance of four Central American parties that have roots in armed opposition movements. It finds that the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador, which achieved the greatest success during their revolutionary periods, have also had the most success in electoral competition. The Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit and the Democratic Unification Party of Honduras, which trace their roots to relatively less successful armed opposition groups, have struggled in elections. Organizational factors, especially the number of combatants and popular support during the conflict, tend to provide a better explanation than institutional factors for the initial success of these groups as political parties.


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pp. 137-162
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2007
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