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Costa Rica’s Presidential Elections, Explained

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Costa Rica faces a delicate electoral processes for its individual history. 

Costa Ricans face the rise of a politician who has capitalized on the discontent of Costa Ricans towards his opponent in the second round: despised former president José María Figueres Olsen. The name of Costa Rica’s new “redeemer” is Rodrigo Chaves, and he founded the nation’s “Chavista” movement.

Chaves, a former finance minister in the current government, has been sanctioned by the World Bank for a pattern of sexual misconduct towards some of his subordinates, and is characterized by a frontal attack on the critical press and his haughty way of responding to journalists.

At El American, we follow the electoral processes in Latin America closely, as we serve Hispanics in the United States. From this perspective, there is something we must emphasize: each country’s problems look different from the outside.

An example of this was seen in the first round of the Costa Rican elections: while inside the country the Ticos favored the Partido Liberación Nacional (27.26%) and Progreso Social Democrático (16.70%), outside the country the view was different.

Costa Ricans abroad gave first place to Figueres, but second place went to the Liberal Progressive Party (with 22.21% of the votes, against 12.33% for the fifth place in votes inside the country). In third place was the socialist Frente Amplio (with 16.83 per cent of the vote, against 8.70 per cent for sixth place in the country). Chaves came fourth.

It seems that while Costa Ricans abroad are leaning towards the stability offered by an old acquaintance (PLN), the liberal ideas offered by Eli Feinzaig (PLP) and the socialist ideals of José María Villalta (FA); Local Costa Ricans have decided to determine their vote based on a dangerous formula for any democracy: hatred.
The people of Costa Rica will decide who they hate more: the hated ex-president José María Figueres or the haughty ex-minister sanctioned for harassment, Rodrigo Chaves.

Will there come a day when we citizens can take the better choices to a second round and not the ones who should be in the trashcans of history? I increasingly doubt it.

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