One way people celebrate Democracy in Costa Rica is by showing support for the party of their choice during election. Each party has a flag, and people go up and down the streets honking their horns and waving flags in support of their candidate for weeks leading up to the elections. On Election Day it is a mad house in the streets with people from every party out voting and honking in support of their candidate.
Presidential elections were just held February 2, 2014. There were thirteen parties to pick from. Within the last few weeks, however, it was made clear that only five of the parties had any real chance in the elections. Of the five there were three parties that each held about 20% of the vote. Once elected President they will serve for four years alongside two vice presidents.
Interesting note: In the beginning of Costa Rica’s democracy a president could run for reelection for another four year term or two. Then in 1969 it was deemed unconstitutional for a president to be reelected ever. It was not until 2003 when Óscar Arias from PLN applied this amendment to the constitutional court. They ruled the 1969 amendment null. Óscar Arias was reelected president in 2006.
In Costa Rica each vote counts as a “direct vote” unlike in the States where you vote for who you want but each state gets so many delegates and they are the ones that vote for the president for you “indirectly”.
To be elected president you have to get 40% of the vote. If any one party fails to get 40% then there will be a runoff election between the top two parties. This is exactly what happened this year with Luis Solís for Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) with 30.9% and Johnny Araya for Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN) with 29.6%.
The runoff elections will be held on the 8th of April and the winner will take office on the 10th of May 2014.
Written by Kimberly Barker, Social Media Journalist