‘Costa Rican Election Analysis’ Event

On Thursday 5th April, Canning House hosted an event to discuss the results of the presidential elections in Costa Rica. In the run-off on 1st April, Carlos Alvarado Quesada of the incumbent PAC took over 60% of the vote against Fabricio Alvarado Munoz of the conservative PRN, defying the polls with this decisive win.

As Chair of the event, Sally Unwin, Honorary Vice-President of Canning House, welcomed the audience and introduced the speakers: Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Honorary Professor at UCL Institute of the Americas and Honorary Vice-President of Canning House, and Giancarlo Morelli, analyst at the EIU.

In their presentations, the speakers set the political scene for this year’s election and went over the issues that affected it. While the PAC broke the two-party system that has dominated Costa Rican politics when it came to power in 2014, it was likely that the dominant PLN would have returned to office in this election had the IACHR ruling on same-sex marriage not shaken up the political landscape and voter intention. The PRN’s decisive stance against the ruling garnered not only the conservative religious vote but also protest votes, sending Fabricio Alvarado through to the second round. Although the polls prior to the run-off were predicting a close race, Fabricio Alvarado’s lack of experience and the loss of Catholic support in the face of attacks from Fabricio Alvarado’s Evangelical base swung the vote in favour of Carlos Alvarado. With no majority in the legislature, and problems such as Costa Rica’s rising fiscal deficit, the four years ahead are unlikely to be easy for the PAC.

Questions and comments from the audience touched upon a number of points, including the likelihood of Carlos Alvarado’s administration pushing through with fiscal reform, and whether the two-party system in Costa Rica is now dead.

Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas’ presentation is available to read in full here