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.
The 1913 presidential election was the first time adult Costa Rican men enjoyed direct “universal suffrage” and all the challenges that came with it.
The three main candidates were all liberals. Máximo Fernández Alvarado was the ruling Republican Nationalist Party’s political boss and had incredible influence among the popular sectors. Next was Carlos Durán Cartín from the National Union Party, a coalition representing the upper class and “the Olympus liberals” who gave shape to late 19th century Costa Rica and felt left out of the political arena. The third candidate was two-term former President Rafael Yglesias Castro, an aging career politician with a deep populist streak, who founded the Civil Party – one of the first in the country – and a direct descendant of “the Olympus” elite.