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.
Agri-businessman Antonio Alvarez of the opposition National Liberation Party, who was in third with 18.7 percent, conceded defeat and congratulated the two front-runners.
Costa Rican election rules say that if no one finishes above 40 percent, the top two advance to a runoff that would take place April 1.
The race was shaken up by a January decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that said Costa Rica should allow same-sex couples to wed, adopt children and enjoy other rights afforded to married couples.