The dominating two-party system in Costa Rica has finally been broken. Luis Solis, of the center-left Citizen Action Party (PAC), has won the presidential election handily. With most of the votes counted, he won 1.2 million votes, or approximately 78% of the vote.
Even though the other candidate, Johnny Araya, had pulled out of the campaign following a University of Costa Rica poll suggesting a large lead by Solis, his name remained on the ballot and he received 22% of the vote. This win comes despite 43% of the electorate abstaining from voting in the elections, a record figure.
Solis beat Araya in all seven provinces and even beat Araya in his own hometown of Palmares by a ratio of two to one.
The PAC party was founded in 2000 as a center-left party focusing on reducing corruption and promoting civic participation in Costa Rica. Solis ran his platform on building up infrastructure, improving universal health care and pension programs, and promote environmental stewardship. He also focused his campaign platform on his desire to revamp the tax system to include a more progressive tax policy.
Meanwhile, Araya’s campaign was marred by allegations of corruption alongside President Chinchilla after he flew on a private jet owned by the MECO Corporation, which had just won a $65 million contract from the government. Some regional experts have been calling this election a clear mandate against the current administration ruled by the National Liberation Party (PLN) headed by the current President Laura Chinchilla.
One other important fact to observe is the PAC’s current standing in Congress. Despite winning the presidency, the PAC only has 13 out of 57 seats in Congress, while the PLN has 18 out of 57 seats. Although the PLN has sworn to support the PAC in Congress where they can, this might change given the PAC’s stated commitment to cracking down on the corruption of the current administration.
President-elect Solis will be sworn in on May 8.
– Jeff Meyer