Viaje al otro mundo

Costa Rica and a recount election

The first 4 weeks of my trip did not feel like a vacation (and weren’t meant to). The last week, in Costa Rica, certainly did. But I just so happened to be around for a key presidential election. Bands of supporters for the two main candidates were out in force — some on motorcycles, some in cars, some standing on the streets — all with flags waving. Alcohol sales were banned on the days on either side of the election. And the two main candidates — Óscar Arias of the National Liberation Party (PLN) and Ottón Solís of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) — represented stark differences for Costa Rica. While Costa Rica is the only Central American nation to withstand Washington pressure to sign on to CAFTA, Óscar Arias ran in part to move CAFTA forward, while Solís ran on an anti-CAFTA platform, saying the deal had to be renegotiated for Costa Rica to sign it.

And while former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Arias was a 20-point favorite going into election day, the results were so close that a manual recount was ordered and the election is still too close to call. Though Arias held a slim lead on election day, the recount has swung in Solís’ favor, and both candidates appear to have gotten above 40%, making a run-off election unlikely (if no candidate gets above 40% a run-off election is held between the top two candidates).

While Costa Rica is known for its smoothly functioning political system and transparent elections, this time around irregularities are being reported and complaints are being leveled. It’s clear that whatever country you live in, you can’t take your voting system’s accuracy for granted.


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