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.
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.”
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.