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Costa Rica: Christian Union on the ropes

Monday, October 14, 2013

A schism threatens to divide and maybe even destroy the Social Christian Unity Party, which for more than half a century has been one of the most important political movements in Costa Rican politics.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations seek to let the party present a united front, ahead of national elections scheduled for next February.

If so, the party could postpone an internal battle between followers of ex President Rafael Angel Calderón, and a group of young technocrats, who want to introduce what it considers more open procedures in choosing leaders and defining an agenda.

The alternative could be problematic for the party, which has no presidential nominee, despite the fact that the campaign started nearly two weeks ago.

Its original candidate, Rodolfo Hernandez, resigned last week, rather than deal with two groups, fighting for control.

The party has maintained a respectable prsence in the Costa Rican Congress during the past decade.

However, it has fared poorly in presidential balloting.

Neither of its candidates in the elections of 2010 and 2006 received more than 5% of the votes.

The party traces its origin to the Republican National Party, led by Calderón’s father, who founded the national health-insurance program, and the country’s leading public university, which remain important institutions.