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Costa Ricans vote in historic polls
Central American nation likely to elect either first female or libertarian leader.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2010 13:19 GMT
If elected, Chinchilla would be the nation's
first female president [AFP]

Thousands of people are heading to the polls in Costa Rica where presidential elections could see the country getting either the first female president or the first libertarian leader.

Laura Chinchilla and Otto Guevara are both competing in polls that opened on Sunday.

Either candidate needs at least 40 per cent of the vote to avoid a run-off that would take place on April 4.

Pre-election polls gave a nearly 20-point lead to Chinchilla, who served as vice-president under Oscar Arias, the current president from the National Liberation Party (PLN).

Chinchilla, a career politician from the ruling party, pledges to continue Arias’s moderate free-market policies that brought Costa Rica into the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

He also initiated trade relations with China after a 63-year association with Taiwan.

Otto Guevara, the anti-taxation Libertarian contender, promises to lower taxes, dismantle monopolies and adopt the US dollar as the country’s currency.

Like Guevara, Otton Solis is an opposition candidate, but he represents the country’s centre-left.

Six other candidates are also running in a race that will again test the popularity of the PLN, which has dominated politics in Costa Rica for the past six decades.

At least 200 international observers, including members of the Organisation of American States, are due to oversee the elections.

Costa Rica enjoys the highest standard of living in Central America and is renowned for not having an army and its role in ending the Cold War-era civil wars that wracked its neighbours.

The country is also Central America's oldest democracy with a record of 60 years of democratic elections.

Source:
Agencies
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