[QODLink]
Americas

Tough run-off expected in Costa Rica election

Partial results show centrist ruling party on course for presidential run-off after strong showing by left-wing rivals.

Last updated: 03 Feb 2014 05:42
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A run-off is required if no candidate wins more than 40 percent of the vote [Reuters]

Costa Rica's centrist ruling party candidate, Johnny Araya, has taken an early lead in presidential elections and is on course to face a tough run-off after a strong showing by two left-wing parties, according to partial results.

On Sunday, Araya, of the National Liberation Party, had 30.6 percent support with votes in from half of polling booths. Luis Guillermo Solis, of the Citizens' Action Party, was in second place with 29.4 percent while Jose Maria Villalta, of Frente Amplio (Broad Front), was third with 17.4 percent.

An April run-off between the top two candidates is required if no single candidate wins more than 40 percent of the vote.

Araya could face a consolidated left-wing vote in the run-off, which could spell defeat for his party.

Campaign promises

Araya, 56, has promised to reduce poverty and has tried to paint his rivals as radicals.

He has also has sought to distance himself from the scandal-plagued current president, Laura Chinchilla, also of the National Liberation Party.

He proclaims his candidacy as "the safest, most responsible option".

But voter anger over government corruption buoyed a challenge from his left-leaning rivals.

Gaffes, such as underestimating the price of milk in an interview, have hit Araya's popularity.

A prosecutor's probe into allegations of abuse of authority and embezzlement while Araya was mayor of San Jose may have also dampened his appeal.

Solis, who previously worked in Costa Rica's foreign ministry, has pledged to improve infrastructure, overhaul the country's universal health care provider and tackle corruption.

That resonated with some voters after Chinchilla sparked outrage by accepting flights on a private jet, despite laws barring public officials from accepting sizeable gifts.

The eventual winner will have to tackle growing government debt that totals more than half of gross domestic product.

290

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.
Taipei has sided with Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters as relations with Beijing continue downward spiral.