Costa Rica elects Rodrigo Chaves as new president

San José, Apr 3 (EFE).- Costa Ricans elected economist Rodrigo Chaves Robles as their 49th president in the runoff election on Sunday following a campaign focused on promises of change and combating corruption.

Chaves, 60, of the center-right Social Democratic Progress Party, obtained 52.9 percent of the votes to defeat former president and candidate of the National Liberation Party (PLN), José María Figueres, who secured 47.1 percent.

Voter abstentionism stood at 42.8 percent.

The president-elect welcomed the results of Sunday’s elections with “humility” and an “enormous responsibility full of challenges and difficulties that all of us are going to solve.”

The economist thanked the public for “having shown up on a democratic day that makes us shine before the world, we are one of the best democracies in the world.”

Figueres conceded defeat, thanked his supporters and promised to help “rescue” the country and urged them to leave behind the “messages of hate.”

“Costa Rica has voted and the people have spoken. We, as the democrats that we are, will always be respectful of that decision. I congratulate Rodrigo Chaves and wish him the best,” Figueres said in an address.

The former president said that Costa Rica “is experiencing a deep crisis” that has put it in a “state of emergency.”

“We had and continue to have every intention of helping rescue Costa Rica, to respect the human rights of all people (…) It is time to leave behind the messages of antagonism, hatred and division of the Costa Rican family and move forward putting the differences aside,” he said.

The president-elect will face the challenge of governing with just 10 lawmakers out of the 57 that make up the parliament.

He will be forced to negotiate with the other five parties represented in the unicameral legislative assembly and especially with the PLN, which is the largest faction with 19 lawmakers.

Chaves will take office on May 8 for a four-year period, replacing Carlos Alvarado, of the center-left Citizens’ Action Party and during whose presidency he was finance minister for six months between 2019 and 2020.

Alvarado said on Sunday that he had telephoned the president-elect “to express my congratulations, make an orderly transition and express my best wishes in the tasks that he will face” as president.

Chaves has proposed reducing the size of the state, social charges and obstacles to investment and entrepreneurship but his campaign has focused on promises to combat corruption for which he blames traditional parties, including the PLN.

Chaves was the finance minister for six months between 2019 and 2020 and held various positions at the World Bank before that. In 2019 he was demoted at the World Bank following allegations of sexual harassment by several co-workers. EFE


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