Costa Rica political election vacation

Next week, I'm heading down to Costa Rica for about 10 days, for a family vacation. So when I saw a link to "Costa Rica's wacky campaign commercials" I had to see what was going on:


I haven't been back to CR since '92-93, when I was in the Peace Corps there. And it looks like I'll be there in the thick of the election season, which is on Feb 7th. What a great vacation!

Tags: Costa Rica, Election (all tags)



make sure to pick up six pack before election day

I was in CR during an election about six years ago I think. Great fun, with a lot of festive neighborhood rallies with everyone decked out in their party's colors (green and white or blue and red)

Going to a bar on election day, however I found out that the sale of booze is prohibited during voting. They made an exception for gringos though.  

by The Electrical Worker 2010-01-21 10:37AM | 0 recs
RE: make sure to pick up six pack before election day

Standard practice in Latin America, no alcohol sales on election day. It's a good law methinks. At least for us.

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 01:45PM | 0 recs
RE: Costa Rica political election vacation

I'm voting for Luis.  My baby is coming soon.  He's less bad than the other guy.  That makes him the best.  I'm going to cast my vote for the best.

Nice song, but a less than inspiring message, no?  

Plus, I don't think those ladies are really pregnant.

by Newt 2010-01-21 11:43AM | 0 recs
The ad

is for Luis Fishman, the candidate of the opposition centre-right Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC), which is reeling since its long-time leader and earlier contender, former President Rafael Angel Calderdón, was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption and levied with a heavy fine. Problem is Fishman is Jewish (he's a descendent of Polish immigrants) so the party has a bit of an identity crisis. After all, how can a conservative Social Christian party have a non-Catholic as a candidate in a country that is 95% Catholic. The party is rebranding itself as La Unión or the Unity party. His selection has obviously raised eyebrows obviously but not much else. He trails badly with less than 5% of the vote. Not a good showing for a party that has long been Costa Rica's second largest party.

Costa Rica is unusual in that it now has four major parties with two new parties coming into being in the last 16 years.

In 1994, Otto Guevara fed up with the nepotism of the two major parties formed a third party el Movimiento Libertario (PML), or the Libertarian Movement. I think it was the world's most successful Libertarian party. I say was because the PML has veered from libertarianism. It hasn't fared well in Presidential elections but it has done rather well in legislative elections winning six seats in CR's 57 seat national assembly. Still the PML has evolved away from libertarianism towards classical liberalism joining the Oxford movement and the Liberal International. Confused yet? It gets stranger still. The PML has close ties to Miami's Cuban exiles and in 2005, a dispute erupted between pragmatists and radicals within the party that led to the ouster of the more radical members. Despite this setback, PML continued to track along a course of “pragmatic liberalism.” In a country with large state sector, a party that wants to undo that is, of course, somewhat of shocker. The party is currently polling second with some 20 percent of the vote.

In 2000, a second new party called Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) - the Citizen's Action Party - was formed by Ottón Solis Fallas. The new party has done surprisingly well. In the 2006, the PAC finished in a virtual tie (less than 2% percentage point) behind Oscar Arias' Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN) which is the founding party of Costa Rican democracy back in 1948 and the party that abolished the army and established Costa Rica's neutrality. Arias was a former President and a Nobel laureate so the results were stunning.  This time around, however, the PAC isn't doing so well garnering only about 10 percent of the vote. The PAC also made news because its runner up was a black woman, Epsy Campbell Barr, who is a descendent of Jamaican immigrants who came to work banana plantations back in the 1920s and 1930s. The PAC is part of a larger movement in Latin America, and one of which I am part of, that eschews traditional parties in favor of non-traditional politicians. The PAC holds 17 seats in the National Assembly currently.

The ruling and dominant PNL has nominated a woman Laura Chinchilla Miranda as its candidate. She's leading in the polls with about 40% of the vote. If elected, she'll be the first woman to become Costa Rica's president.

Polls indicate about 15 percent of Ticos remain undecided. Corruption is one of the leading issues in the campaign hence Fishman's ad (above) which runs "the least worst is the best."

Costa Rica has a run-off system if no candidate wins 50% + 1. So as things stand now it seems that CR is headed towards a second round.

Civic movements are quite the rage in Latin America. In my native Colombia which goes to the polls in May, there are several independent civic actors running for President with Sergio Fajardo, the former mayor of Medellín but a mathematician with a PhD from Wisconsin, polling strongly. And in Perú, Jaime Bayly, an independent TV journalist (think Charlie Rose with a heavy dash of David Letterman or maybe the other way around Letterman with a dash of Rose), has emerged as one of the leading candidates in Perú 2011 elections. Bayly is openly gay and has lived more recently in Miami and Bogotá than in Lima. He is a quixotic mix of politics. One of the fiercest critics of Chávez on the continent, socially progressive but economically conservative. 

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 01:44PM | 1 recs
RE: The ad

I hope its just as demilitarized as it was 18 years ago.  Yea, PAC and PML are new parties to me. Thanks for the info.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-01-21 02:41PM | 0 recs
RE: The ad

At the very least, everything is being discussed in Costa Rica right now.

The US and CR are engaged in a trade war right now. The US has banned CR sugar imports because CR has refused to pass intellectual property laws protecting pharmaceuticals.

They tell me that Yankee imperialism is dead. No lo creo.

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 02:57PM | 1 recs
RE: The ad

yeah, the Ticos aren't exactly thrilled with the ad. It was been pulled a few days after running because the response was "it celebrates mediocrity." 

On the plus side, the fact that Fishman is Jewish hasn't been an issue really. If anything, it is further proof that most of the continent is politically mature. In Colombia Antanus Mockus is running. He's a former two-time mayor of Bogotá and a Lithuanian-Colombian. In Brazil which votes in October 2010, Lula's PT - Partido dos Trabalhadores - the Workers' Party is set to nominate Dilma Rousseff who is a Bulgarian-Brazilian and a former guerrilla movement member. She's currently trailing in the polls in second place behind a former mayor of São Paulo, José Serra who is more pro-business. Again with Lula's popularity at over 80% it is surprising that is not translating into support for his hand-picked successor.

And while Uruguay elected José Mujica, another former guerrilla and a socialist, Chile narrowly went for Sebastián Piñera a billionaire centre-right candidate. The Chile case is interesting because Piñera was elected in an election that only some 60% of the electorate voted in a country where voting is obligatory. There's a catch though. You have to vote only if you register. Register once and you have to vote the rest of your life. Even so some 200,000 registered Chileans failed to vote (about the margin of victory) but more importantly over half of Chileans under 30 did not register to vote. So there's some apathy going on. 

Also Bachelet's popularity, also near 85%, didn't do much for the left this time around. Still, most analyst believe that if she runs again in 2014, she'll win.

In Panamá, newly elected President Ricardo Martelli, a conservative and a supermarket magnate, is proving exceptionally popular some six months into his term. Over 90% approval rating. And in El Salvador, they are raving about Mauricio Funes, the first leftist President from the FMLN. He has an 80% approval rating and they're calling him the Lula of Central America.

The least popular President is Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at 19%.

Interesting times in Latin America. 

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 03:33PM | 1 recs
RE: The ad

oops, there's a run-off only if the winning candidate doesn't get 40% of the vote.

My bag. Sorry.

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 03:45PM | 1 recs
One more thing

CR runs an unusual ticket. One President with two VPs (the office of VP is itself a relatively new development in Latin American politics). At least one of the VPs has to be a woman.

The PNL candidate, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, is a former VP.


by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 02:27PM | 1 recs
I have to say

the ad is like a bad quinceañera party.

by Charles Lemos 2010-01-21 04:18PM | 1 recs


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