A former labor minister and novelist from the governing party was decisively elected president of Costa Rica in a runoff on Sunday, holding off an evangelical Christian singer who had built an upstart campaign in part on his opposition to same-sex marriage. With ballots from most polling stations counted, the former minister, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, won three-fifths of the vote, while his opponent, Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz, received the rest, according to the federal election authorities. The overwhelming victory defied polls in recent weeks that showed the candidates locked in a statistical dead heat or Mr. Alvarado Muñoz with a lead.
Fabricio Alvarado and Carlos Alvarado are now competing to win Costa Rica’s presidency in the second round of voting. This past Sunday’s election showed a profound change in Costa Rica’s political map and the popular response to the country’s marginalized areas. The election also confirmed the huge impact of religion-driven voters, who represented half a million votes (24,9%) in representation of the growing and dynamic evangelic sector combined with the indispensable support of conservative forces within traditional Catholicism, the majority in Costa Rica. The former journalist, Pentecostal preacher and legislator Fabricio Alvarado now symbolizes something much bigger than just his small party, National Restoration, which was founded by the pastor Carlos Avendaño after political disagreements with former legislator Justo Orozco. He also represents the evangelical churches that work tirelessly through prayers and social work to promote a “pro-life and pro-family” political agenda, which the Catholic Church has boosted less and less with each election.
Two candidates with the same last name and opposing stances on gay marriage, an issue that came to dominate Costa Rica’s presidential campaign, led election returns and appear headed to a runoff to decide who will be the Central American nation’s next leader. With nearly 87 percent of the ballots counted late Sunday, Fabricio Alvarado, an evangelical whose political stock soared after he came out strongly against same-sex marriage, had 24.8 percent of the vote. Carlos Alvarado — no relation — had 21.7 percent and was the only major candidate among 13 to support gay marriage.
In the U.S., Poland and Australia, protestors have dressed in the bright crimson robes and white bonnets made famous by the book and Hulu television series the “Handmaid’s Tale” as a way to demonstrate against policies and politicians they feel are are oppressive to women. Sunday, the protest traveled to Costa Rica, where a group of women donned such costumes to the polls to demonstrate against the statements and proposed policies of presidential front-runner Fabricio Alvarado, an evangelical Christian singer and legislator whose popularity in the current campaign is tied to a platform that appears regressive in relation to women’s rights and is stridently against gay marriage. According to Global News, there were eight women in total who wore the recognizable garb from the series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel from 1985, when they showed up at a voting center in Heredia, outside San Jose.
A debate over same-sex marriage propelled an evangelical Christian singer from a long-shot candidate to the top vote-getter in the first round of Costa Rica’s presidential election Sunday. Fabricio Alvarado, a former television journalist who became an influential Pentecostal singer, will face Carlos Alvarado Quesada, a former labor minister, in the April 1 runoff. The two men are not related. Mr. Alvarado had won almost 25 percent of the vote to nearly 22 percent for Mr. Alvarado Quesada, with about 90 percent of the polling places counted, the nation’s electoral board said.
Costa Rica’s debt and deficit have risen to the highest on record, and its credit rating has been cut repeatedly in recent years. But, forget all that: It is the prospect of legalizing gay marriage that dominated the debate and threatens to turn the Feb. 4 presidential election on its head. Many religious Costa Ricans were incensed by a Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling this month in favor of gay marriage, which the government said it would implement. Support for Fabricio Alvarado, an little-known evangelical candidate opposed to the notion, leaped sixfold, propelling him into first place in some polls and spooking investors. Alvarado’s “aggressive stance” on the issue “seems to have resonated with voters,”’ Eurasia Group analyst Risa Grais-Targow said.
The municipal elections in Costa Rica were held on Sunday, February 7th. And already, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of Americans States headed by former Uruguay Deputy Minister Edgardo Ortuno are getting ready for the event. The agreement between the Chief of Mission and the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal guarantees access to all information related to the organization and supervision of the electoral’s process. While local elections are important to pick out leaders in the municipality, for Costa Rica, the municipal elections have taken precedence over the refugees, as they have been displaced in the name of the government that has mandated the use of educational buildings, halls, and churches as polling sites. This has effectively displaced the influx of Cuban immigrants that have been stranded in Costa Rica for several weeks now, per Diplomatic Courier.
Opposition candidate Luis Solis easily won Sunday’s presidential runoff in Costa Rica, an expected result given that his only rival had stopped campaigning a month earlier because he was so far behind in the polls. What gave Solis, a center-leftist, cause to celebrate was a solid voter turnout in an election considered a foregone conclusion. Experts had warned that a low turnout would undermine the legitimacy of his government. In the run-up to the vote, he had appealed to Costa Ricans to cast ballots and set a goal of getting more than 1 million votes. Late Sunday, Costa Rica’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced that with 93 percent of voting stations reporting Solis had 1,258,715 votes, or 77.9 percent support, easily beating ruling party candidate Johnny Araya at 22.1 percent. Araya remained on the ballot even though he suspended his campaign because the country’s constitution does not allow for a candidate to drop out.
After National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya announced he was no longer campaigning for president in a second-round vote, many journalists and politicians questioned why a runoff election was necessary at all since his decision effectively gave the presidency to Luis Guillermo Solís of the Citizen Action Party. Costa Rican law prohibits any of the two candidates in a runoff election from stepping aside. The constitution demands that the Costa Rican people vote on April 6. Voters will weigh their options and freely decide who is the best. The decision is theirs to make, and the future belongs to the voters, not the Legislative Assembly or a candidate who steps down. Only the people can make this decision. Candidates can withdraw from the race during a first round, but once entered into a second round, they are legally required to finish the process. This is not a whim or some old, unrevised piece of legislation; it was established after two bitter experiences in the country’s past. The people must vote, and a mandate must be given. Yes, it’s expensive and it may seem unnecessary, but democracy is funny that way.
Costa Rica’s ruling party candidate Johnny Araya on Wednesday abandoned his presidential campaign a month before a runoff, a move that appeared to guarantee victory for leftist former diplomat Luis Guillermo Solis. Araya, of the ruling centrist National Liberation Party (PLN), said he would no longer campaign, though under the constitution his name will remain on the ballot. He said he had made the decision after polls showed him way behind Solis. A favorite to win before the first round of voting in February, Araya has been beset by voter resentment over government corruption scandals under President Laura Chinchilla and rising inequality. Solis scored a surprise win in that vote, and has stretched his lead dramatically in opinion polls. “There is an increasing will to replace the party in government,” Araya told a news conference, declining to take questions. “I will abstain from any electoral activity.”
Like the United States, Costa Rica is a constitutional republic and has been since 1949. Like the United States, Costa Rica holds presidential elections every four years. Costa Rica held its presidential election on Feb. 2. What is different from the United States is that Costa Rica had 13 candidates running for president, four of them top contenders. I was in Costa Rica for the three weeks during the run-up to the election and everywhere I went I saw people driving by with their favorite party’s flags flying — green and white for the National Liberation Party (PLN), red and yellow for the Citizen’s Action Party (PAC), yellow for the Broad Front (FA) and red and white for the Libertarian Movement (ML). In the streets, people wore shirts of their party’s colors and enthusiastically waved flags. Trucks drove through neighborhoods playing music, blasting slogans and encouraging people to vote. Newspapers ran articles extolling their favorites and interviewing candidates and supporters.
Last Sunday’s presidential election marked the first time that Costa Ricans could vote from abroad. But not many of them did — and part of the problem might’ve been the major event occurring that same day in the United States, the Super Bowl. Out of 12,654 registered voters living outside of Costa Rica, only 2,771 cast a ballot. Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) President Luis Antonio Sobrado said a significant portion of those potential voters lived in the northeast of the United States. He suggested to La Nación that the cold there, along with complications created by the Super Bowl, likely kept many Ticos inside.
Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) officials on Tuesday began opening the bags containing all ballots from the presidential election last Sunday. Their task: a one-by-one counting of votes. Costa Rica’s legislation stipulates that when the difference in votes between the two leading candidates does not exceed 2 percent, the TSE must conduct a manual count of every ballot. According to the latest TSE report on Monday, Citizens Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís had 30.95 percent of the votes, while the candidate of the ruling National Liberation Party Johnny Araya got 29.59 percent. These figures include the votes from 90 percent of polling centers. The results also indicate that a second round of voting must be held April 6th, as neither of the top candidates got 40 percent of votes (the minimum to be declared the winner). A total of 212 TSE officials are now distributing the ballots from 6,515 polling centers along five long tables for counting them.
For only the second time in its history, Costa Rica on Monday began preparing for a presidential runoff after dark horse center-left hopeful Luis Guillermo Solis picked up the most votes in the initial balloting. With 89 percent of the ballots counted, Solis has 30.95 percent of the vote, the candidate of the governing centrist PLN, Johnny Araya, stands at 29.56 percent. The runoff is set for April 6. Visibly tired after a long election day on Sunday, Solis held a press conference at which he announced that he will open a dialogue with different sectors with an eye toward the second round. “We want to establish a dialogue with the whole country. We are obligated to establish in the next two months dialogues of different kinds with movements, organizations, personalities and political parties,” he said.
A left-leaning former diplomat edged ahead in Costa Rica’s presidential election on Sunday, riding a wave of disgust at government corruption to get within reach of wresting power from the centrist government in an April run-off. Luis Guillermo Solis, an academic who has never been elected to office, had a slim lead over ruling party candidate Johnny Araya despite trailing in pre-election polls and early vote returns. Araya was seen as the front-runner ahead of the vote, but his campaign was hurt by corruption scandals that plagued President Laura Chinchilla’s administration. Solis, who ran on an anti-corruption ticket, won 30.9 percent support on Sunday compared to 29.6 percent for Araya with returns in from around 82 percent of polling centers.
Political campaign messages disappeared from mass media at midnight Wednesday, the official start of an electoral campaign ban ordered by Costa Rica’s Electoral Code. The law stipulates that all paid messages must be suspended three days before Election Day and during Sunday’s vote. The ban includes airing or printing of paid propaganda in newspapers, radio, television and on the Web. However, during the 2010 elections the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) ruled that in the case of Internet messages, the restriction only applies to the online publication of paid ads or banners, meaning candidates are allowed to post messages in free platforms such as social networks.
Over 82% of the 12,654 Costa Ricans registered to vote abroad in the elections on February 2 may use a new electronic voting system, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced today. Electronic voting, which will be implemented for the first time in Costa Rica presidential elections, is a pilot plan that can be used at the consulates of 31 countries with more than 50 people registered in each. TSE President, Luis Antonio Sobrado, said at a press conference that the voting and the use of electronic voting is “the most important of the major innovations for the elections.” Each voter will have the opportunity to choose the electronic ballot, which includes the option to vote on a touch screen computer.