Tuesday 31 January 2023

Costa Ricans punish the PAC and banish it from politics

No surprise by the historic vote against the PAC

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28 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

Paying the bills


QCOSTARICA – After eight years of a PAC government, in two consecutive governments led by Luis Guillermo Solis and Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Costa Ricans severely punished that party and banished it from national politics.

The rojiamarillos (red and yellow party) not only received scant support at the polls in the voting for President – less than 1%, but they were also banished from the Legislative Assembly since they did not elect a single legislator.

Rodrigo Arias (PLN), Pilar Cisneros (Progreso Social), Carlos Felipe García (PUSC), Sofía Guillén (Frente Amptio) and Eli Feinzaig  (Liberal Progresista)are some of the legislators elected on Sunday. All of them are representatives of San José. La República

Four years ago, they managed to obtain 10 of the 57 seats when Carlos Alvarado won the presidency.

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The PAC’s defeat at the polls allowed other groups to grow considerably, or to make their public appearance in Congress.

At the latest cut by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) and with 67.7% of the votes counted, the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLNS) had 19 seats, increasing the number of legislators by two.

Meanwhile, the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) had elected 12 legislators. For decades, prior to the first PAC win in 2014, the PLN and PUSC had alternated governing Costa Rica.

The surprise of the electoral day in terms of the Legislative Assembly would have been given by Rodrigo Chaves’ Progreso Social Democrático, with at least nine legislators.

Other parties that profited from the votes for the Legislative Assembly were the Frente Amplio (five legislators), Liberal Progresista (five legislators) and Nueva Generación with one legislator.

As for Fabricio Alvarado and the Nueva República, the first estimates barely gave him six legislators.

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The debacle of the PAC should not surprise anyone, since the erosion of power would have taken a heavy toll on that party.

And it is that at the moment, more than 350,000 people (14.4%) do not have a source of employment, while poverty affects 26% of the population.

At the same time, the pressure of an immense state debt of more than US$42 billion – equivalent to 70% of GDP – and a fiscal deficit of 5.1%, are conditions that generate uncertainty in the economy, and that could increase the cost of living even more.

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The Covid-19 health crisis not only complicated the fragile public finances, but also had a strong impact on companies, job creation and the quality of life of Costa Ricans.

“There is a rejection of the PAC because under its mandate, all social indices deteriorated (…) People who have lived under the government of other parties, perhaps adults who are over 40 years old, look to the experience and knowledge of the traditional parties an option to fix the country’s problems”, said Vladimir de la Cruz, analyst and columnist for La Republica newspaper.

The analyst asserted that he was not surprised at all by the historic vote against the PAC.

On the other hand, of all the presidential candidates (there were a historic 25 for the 2022 election cycle) who also ran for the Legislative Assembly, only Eli Feinzaig of the Partido Liberal Progresista and Fabricio Alvarado of Nueva República were the only ones who managed to obtain a seat.

The new Congress will begin work on May 1.

The new president, to be decided by a second-round vote on April 3, will assume office on May 8.

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