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Costa Rica: two electoral shocks

Friday, March 14, 2014

Uncertainty is the prevailing condition in Costa Rica, which for the first time in modern history will have an uncontested presidential election, as well as the entry into office of a new political party, many of whose goals remain uncertain.

The candidate of the Citizen Action Party, Luis Guillermo Solis, is almost certain to take office as President, following elections to be held on April 6, as a result of the withdrawal from the race of Johnny Araya, who said that his National Liberation Party had no funds, with which to continue the campaign.

A former foreign minister, Solis has a positive image among most Costa Ricans, including the business community, which considers him to be a moderate.

At the same time, it is unclear who will form the cabinet on behalf of a party, which until last January was not expected to take power, and which in the past has tended to favor big government and high taxes.

Citizen Action was founded less than a decade ago, following the implosion in 2006 of Social Christian Unity, one of Costa Rica’s two leading parties during the previous half-century.

For its part, National Liberation has been the most successful political movement in modern Costa Rican history.

The April 6 election was to have been a run-off between Solis and Araya, following a first round of voting last February 2, in which no candidate won the necessary minimum of 40% of ballots cast.

In that round, both leading candidates got just under 30% of total votes.

However, National Liberation had spent all its resources, in the hope of avoiding a run-off.