Home LATEST NEWS Elections in Costa Rica: ex-president Figueres stands out in the first round

Elections in Costa Rica: ex-president Figueres stands out in the first round

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He will face in the second round, on April 3, the former Minister of Economy Rodrigo Chaves, a defector from the outgoing government, which won 16.64% of the vote, ahead of the conservative evangelical preacher Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz (15.02%), which had been beaten on the wire in the second round by outgoing President Carlos Alvarado in 2018.

Lineth Saborio, candidate for the Social-Christian Unity Party (PUSC, centre-right) is largely left behind with only 12.46% of the ballots counted and has half-acknowledged her failure.

However, the polls gave the 61-year-old former vice-president (2002-2006) favorite for the second qualifying place for the second round.

Second round

José Maria Figueres walks past a polling station wearing a mask.

The candidate of the National Liberation Party (PLN), José Maria Figueres, was leading the polls with around 17% of the voting intentions for the first round of the presidential election.

Photo: Getty Images

It is indeed established that no candidate will obtain 40% of the votes, which thus imposes a second round.

A record 25 candidates ran for the presidency of Costa Rica on Sunday, a small Central American country renowned for its stability, its quality of life and the richness of its environment which attracted millions of tourists before the pandemic.

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Polling stations opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 6 p.m. Some 3.5 million voters were called to the polls to choose a president and also elect the 57 deputies of the National Assembly.

On the eve of the election, 31.8% of voters were still undecided, according to a latest poll, paving the way for a surprise.

Election day took place from normal way, but abstentionism reached around 40%, a record figure, according to the TSE.

Costa Rica is a country with a robust democracy […]. It shows elements that can serve as an example to other countries, greeted Isabel de Saint Malo who leads the election observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Welmer Ramos, the candidate of the Citizen Action Party (PAC, center left), in power since 2014, is spectacularly punished with 0.66% of the ballots counted, victim of the record unpopularity of the outgoing government team.

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Debt and poverty

Out of a population of around 5 million, there are one and a half million people living below the poverty line, and half a million in extreme poverty, underlined Mr. Figueres after depositing his ballot in the ballot box on Sunday morning.

The small country, with the flattering reputation of Switzerland of Central America, is indeed facing an economic crisis aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as corruption scandals on an unprecedented scale.

Unemployment has been rising for more than a decade, reaching 14.4% in 2021, a very slight decline compared to 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

Last year, 23% of Costa Ricans lived below the poverty line, while debt reached 70% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Ministers, former ministers and mayors were also splashed last year by two corruption cases concerning embezzlement and bribes for public works contracts worth several million dollars.

These scandals undermined the credibility and reputation of politicians, and the ruling team achieved a record 72% unpopularity score.

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