Chaves wins Costa Rican presidency (April 4, 2022)
Economist Rodrigo Chaves won Costa Rica's presidency, adding to the ranks of anti-establishment leaders in the region. Preliminary results give Chaves 52.9 percent of votes, over his opponent in yesterday's runoff election, former president José María Figueres, who obtained 47.1 percent. Figueres conceded defeat last night, though final results will be announced later this week. (El País)
The election upends decades of political consensus in Costa Rica, reports Reuters. "The election was a referendum on decades of politics defined, by Central American standards, by relative stability and pluralism, but also marked by transcendent regional issues like economic inequality, bitter polarization about women’s and LGBTQ rights, and disenchantment with political parties," reports El Faro English. Chaves, whose conservative party, Social Democratic Progress, has followed parts of El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele's playbook in billing himself as a break from the political establishment
Absenteeism was at 43 percent, indicating widespread disgust among Costa Rican voters with the candidates -- both of which have been linked to scandals during the campaign -- and the political establishment in general. Chaves returned to the country in 2019 after decades abroad and rose rapidly by presenting himself as a maverick outsider, skillfully exploiting discontent, reports the New York Times.
Chaves has been implicated in a campaign financing scandal, and he has fought to minimize and misrepresent a World Bank sexual harassment investigation of him. Figueres was accused of corruption relating to his presidency in the 90s. But for voters, unemployment and an economic crisis dominated the campaign. Chaves will take office next month with the major challenge of reigniting an economy in crisis, reports AFP.
Chaves party will have only 10 seats in Costa Rica's 57 person Congress, which will hinder his ability to carry out campaign promises, including to increase social spending. His ability to build alliances will be hindered by the aggresive tone of the presidential campaign, according to El Faro.
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