Fun Fact Friday

Presidential Election Update!

Feb 2nd Election: The television showed the votes as the results began to come in early in the night.
Feb 2nd Election: The television showed the votes as the results began to come in early in the night.

Big news from Costa Rica! On February 7th, we posted the fact that the election was inconclusive and  neither candidate had received the necessary 40% to win the election. A new run-off election was called for April 6th, but in a shocking turn of events, one of the two remaining presidential candidates, Johnny Araya, has withdrawn from the race! Based on recent opinion polls suggesting that he was lagging far behind the other candidate with only 21% of voters likely to back him, Mr. Araya felt that it was a sensible decision to withdraw his candidacy.

“It is only prudent not to spend millions on publicity, meetings and other events. We will respect the constitutional provisions, but I will refrain from any electoral activity,” he told reporters.

A candidate's advertisement hangs in the window of our local pulpería, or grocery store, on election day.
A campaign poster hangs in the window of our local pulpería, or grocery store.

Despite his withdrawal, Costa Rica’s laws actually do not permit candidates to drop out. Johnny Araya’s name will appear on the ballot during the April 6th election, but this surprise decision opens the way for Araya’s opponent Luis Guillermo Solís, of the political party PAC, to be Costa Rica’s next president!

Feb 2nd Election: UGA Costa Rica staff gather to watch as the results come in election night.
Feb 2nd Election: UGA Costa Rica staff gather to watch as the results come in election night.

Bonus Fun Fact: The founder of the PAC political party, Ottón Solís is actually an instructor of international affairs at UGA Costa Rica!

Fun Fact Friday

Election Update:

Well we had planned on revealing the new Costa Rican president to you today, but in a shocking turn of events, the election was inconclusive! It was too close. Citizens Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís had 30.95 percent of the votes, while the candidate of the National Liberation Party Johnny Araya got 29.59 percent. The results indicate that a second round of voting must be held April 6th, as neither of the top candidates got 40% of votes (the minimum to be declared the winner).

Citizens Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís.

This was also the first year that Costa Ricans abroad could vote in the election. However, the turnout was less than stellar. Out of 12,654 registered voters living outside of Costa Rica, only 2,771 actually cast a vote. The Supreme Elections Tribunal authorities have a couple of theories as to why the turnout was low: the weather at some of the major voting polls in the US was pretty brutal, the elections occurred at the same time as the Chinese New Year celebration, and perhaps most influential was the fact that they coincided with the Super Bowl! The biggest polling station in the US was in New York City, and Super Bowl traffic hindered transportation.

National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya.

Who knew, right? I guess we’ll keep you updated. Tune back in around April 6th for further developments!

Wanna see another fun thing? This music video celebrates CR’s elections and democratic tradition.

President Laura Chinchilla Visits San Luis

President Laura Chinchilla visited the Monteverde region yesterday. She first stopped in Santa Elena for the inauguration of the new fire station, and then she made her way down to the mountain to the San Luis community.

The president was accompanied by the Minister of the President, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Pedro Castro, and the Minister of Social Welfare, Fernando Marín.

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Fabricio Camacho (right), the general manager of the UGA Costa Rica campus, gives President Laura Chinchilla and others an overview of campus on the Student Union porch.

The University of Georgia campus was President Chinchilla’s first stop in San Luis. Fabricio Camacho, the general manager of the Costa Rica campus, gave a speech to the president and her companions about UGA Costa Rica and its effort to be a leading example in sustainability.

Following her UGA visit, President Chinchilla attended the inauguration of the new San Luis community center.

The president was greeted by a large crowd. She greeted members of the community during her entrance, with her main focus on the local children, taking many of them by the hand as she walked by.

President Chinchilla participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new community center and also gave a speech inside. There were a series of other speakers including local community members, Noe Vargas and Virgilio Brenes, and former Miss Costa Rica, Shirley Calvo.

Photos from the inauguration of the San Luis community center:

Article and photos: Kristy L. Densmore, photojournalism intern