- BBC News World
Economist Rodrigo Chavez will be Costa Rica’s new president after this Sunday’s election, after his rival, Jose Maria Figueroa, conceded defeat.
With more than 95% of the tables counted, the Social Democratic Progressive Party (PSD) politician leads with 52.9%, while his opponent in the National Liberation Party (PLN) has 47.1%.
In his first message, the elected leader highlighted the union and sought the support of the opposition.
“I send a message to Jose Maria (Ficurus) and all the people who voted for him. I congratulate him on his aristocracy and ask him to work with Don Jose and his party,” he said. “We must all unite under the blue, white and red flags of our national emblem,” he added.
Chavez also spoke directly to thousands of Costa Ricans who did not vote this Sunday.
“Unfortunately, the intense campaigning that we have experienced has turned the referendum into the largest political party in Costa Rica. It is a sad fact that we must understand and accept this. There may be those who want to shake the conscience of the class, “he said.
According to Electoral Court data, 42.85% did not vote this Sunday, more than in the first round, which was already a record. 3.5 million Costa Rican people were called to vote.
Chavez said he would take it as a “warning” to encourage “new consensus work” to “restore their confidence”.
For his part, Figueroa conceded victory to his opponent in the evening.
“I congratulate Rodrigo Chavez and wish him well,” he said. “Costa Rica voted and the people spoke. We Democrats have always respected that decision,” said Figueroa, who became president in 1994.
The industrial engineer told a group of supporters that his country was living in an “emergency”. With this in mind, he called on the union to point out that it exists “to help restore Costa Rica.”
“I still think Costa Rica is in deep crisis,” he said. “In the face of this crisis and this emergency, it is time to leave the message of animosity, hatred and division, to set aside differences and move forward among all of us,” he commented.
The country held a second round of presidential elections this Sunday, with no candidate getting the required 40% of the vote to run for office in the first round in February.
The election comes at a time when the Central American country is experiencing erosion in its welfare economy.
According to a survey by the University of Costa Rica, unemployment and the economy are the biggest concern of the Costa Ricans (29.1% and 17.8%), respectively (10.6%), which prompted President Carlos Alvarado to step down. And the one who minimized his popularity.
Faced with these problems the Costa Ricans gave confidence to Chavez, but who will be the country’s new president for the next four years?
Chavez, a 60-year-old economist, came out on top in the second round and made a surprise appearance, missing out on two of the favorites in the first round. However, it is considered “foreign” or almost unknown in Costa Rican politics to become its next president.
He will do so amid allegations of sexual harassment in the past. “Do not give the keys to the same old people”, is one of the phrases he often repeats.
Chavez holds a doctorate in economics from Ohio University in the United States and a higher education degree after receiving a fellowship at Harvard University to study poverty issues in Asia.
It also boasts a wide international career in the economic field. For nearly 30 years, he worked for the World Bank and eventually became the director of its office in Indonesia.
In Costa Rica, however, he was only known for his six months as the country’s finance minister, during which he sought to revive the country’s economy, which had been severely affected by the epidemic.
Maintaining disagreements with the current president’s government after initiating some controversial actions, Charles AlvaradoResigned in May 2020.
He was surprised to announce himself as the candidate of the Social Democratic Progressive Party only last July, an unknown organization formed three years ago, through which he will now reach the Presidential Palace.
Precisely because of his political inexperience is one of the biggest criticisms he faces in the campaign, as well as the ambiguity about who will form his future government team or some of the country’s key issues.
“Ch சாvez is well-trained and a technician, but Ficuஸ்rez has no knowledge of the recognized country. In addition, he has no team, or he does not know it. Such a new party needs more people to join its ranks,” says Costa Rican analyst Valeria. Vargas.
“We do not know how your party thinks. It is very quiet. Its representatives [elegidos en primera vuelta y provenientes de distintos partidos] They do not have a clear position on the big issues of the country, “he told BBC Mundo.
Persecution and populism
In his campaign debates, as in Ficuras’ debates, the personal attacks on his rival were more than expressing the views of his government program.
Using informal phrases such as “I eat anger” or reiterating “order home”, Chaos sought to communicate with the Costa Rican people through direct, confrontational talk, frustrated by traditional politicians. As an initiative.
“They tell me I’re too arrogant and dictatorial, but I’m just saying things, people don’t like it,” he said in the campaign.
In his words, the political scientist said, “There are very hidden populist and sexual elements, including jokes with sexual meaning. This may be dismissed in an urban and highly educated environment, but they need to be supported in other parts of the country.” Predicted for BBC Mundo. Costa Rican Daniel Calvo before knowing the result.
But the allegations of sexual harassment he received from World Bank employees while working for the agency between 2008 and 2013 have undoubtedly surrounded Chavez’s image.
The economist described the allegations as “gossip and lies” and promised it was a “misunderstanding” due to the “jokes and jokes” he made to his comrades.
However, Chavez was attacked by her opponents on the issue and by civil rights groups, such as women’s groups who came to protest her election on March 8.
“Feminist movements in Costa Rica are wondering about the suitability of a president who is being questioned on this scale. Over the past ten years, the level of resistance to sexual harassment and street harassment has increased.
“Questions about the two candidates (allegations of harassment against Chavez and allegations of corruption against Ficuras) will continue for a few more years. Undoubtedly, this will become more complicated for the president because it will in practice become a fuel for social opposition. An important weapon,” Calvo predicted.
Attacks on the press and corruption
Chavez made the fight against corruption one of his banners, for which he blamed previous governments. For example, he proposed to attack it with a scheme that would give money to those who condemn these acts and punish those who do not.
He also expressed his desire to use state reforms through a referendum if necessary. Among other things, he talked about a set of executive orders to make services and basic goods cheaper.
Although seldom underdeveloped in the campaign, his government program is committed to economic matters such as reducing paperwork and facilitating business operations, attracting investment, creating employment, reducing social tariffs and supporting the poorest coastal sectors in the country.
“Costa Rica is not a poor country, but a very poorly governed country” is one of the most used phrases by the now elected president.
In his candidacy he was characterized by constant clashes with the press, which he said was biased, which led him to compare himself to other leaders such as Donald Trump, Jair Bolzano or Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Another of his slogans was “Let’s make America the best country we can be” and “Let’s make Costa Rica the happiest country in the world again” as used by the former US president.
In the last days of the campaign, Chavez flirted with evangelicals, signing agreements with some of their representatives, in which he promised to remove what he called “gender ideology” in the education system.
Like other Latin American countries, the movement has been established in Costa Rica in recent years. In 2018, evangelist Fabrizio Alvarado is set to become president.
Despite his victory this Sunday, the rejection created by Chaos by a section of the Costa Rican population and the high turnout this Sunday (which broke records again with a provisional 42.85%) predicts he could face a sensational mandate.
“Its populist and dictatorial dynamics have brought it into conflict with sectors such as women, culture and agriculture,” Costa Rican political scientist Gustavo Araya stressed in an interview with BBC Mundo.
“Being a small party and having some proposals that create high expectations, the chances of implementation being very low, I would say, would have been a much more chaotic period for the Chavez government than the one that Ficuras could have had,” he concludes. .
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