QCOSTARICA – Former president Osé María Figueres Olsen, presidential candidate of the Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN), who obtained the most votes on February 6, but not the required 40% to win the presidency, affirmed that his rival in the second round, Rodrigo Chaves, of the Partido Progreso Social Democrático (PPSD), follows the example of the former United States president, Donald Trump, and the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, to elaborate a discourse of “destruction” of democratic institutions, taking advantage of the discontent of various sectors of society.
In addition, Figueres denies that PLN’s political proposal consists of defending the status quo of the State. He says that reforming does not mean destroying and that the country’s situation is not to enter with a “drawn knife to cut here and veneer there.”
Figueres, like many voters, were surprised by the results of Rodrigo Chaves, allowing him to take part in the second round voting on April 3.
In an interview with La Nacion, Figueres calls Chaves the “anti-system” candidate, explaining that “Over the years, we have been accumulating challenges, problems in the country, which I have pointed out on many occasions as a phenomenon that is not only in Costa Rica; it is a global phenomenon and those challenges and problems that have been accumulating for us are creating an animosity or resentment with respect to the exercise of democracy and the democratic institutions of the countries.
“People interpret that this democratic system is not yielding the fruits that people expect for their well-being. That resentment that occurs, normally in these times in some diverse sectors of society, increases a lot in times like the ones we live in.
“And in some countries, that discontent has been channeled by candidates that I call anti-system, who take it upon themselves against the system of democratic institutions in a way, where rather what is produced is a discourse of destruction, of dismantling that democratic institutionality, instead of a positive discourse, to work to improve that democratic institutionality and to be able to move forward with it.
“I believe that Don Rodrigo follows the example of candidate Trump or Mr. Bolsonaro and, well, the results are the order of the day.
“This position of mine, in terms of respect for democratic institutions, for the institutions that we have in the country, has been interpreted in some circles as if Figueres is the defender of the status quo, as if with Figueres absolutely nothing is going to change. in the State and that is not true.”
Referring to his first term as president, from 1994 to 1998, Figueres added, “Reforming does not mean destroying, reforming does not mean dismantling, and I have the experience of a first government where we made many transformations.
“At that time we had to make difficult decisions in some institutions, due to the circumstances in which those institutions found themselves. And every time a deep modification of the institutionality is attempted, a national commotion is created.
“Things are already complicated enough and the challenges we face are very interconnected with each other for us to still try to reach the Government like someone who enters with a drawn knife to cut here and veneer there.”
While abstentionism hit a record on February 6, it is expected to play an even larger role for the second round on April 3, as many voters stating publicly “I can’t vote for José María Figueres, nor for Rodrigo Chaves”.
Candidate Figueres sees the matter of abstentionism as a voice of alarm. For Figueres, “the ideal would have been for everyone to vote, but I also understand abstentionism and the conditions we are in. I consider it as a logical consequence of this emergency that we are experiencing.
“If we were in normal times, if we have 40% abstentionism, I would be very concerned, but look, today there are three elements that I think have caused this abstentionism.
“In the first place, we have thousands of families concerned with making ends meet, on the coasts, where poverty and lack of work are particularly harsh; there the priority is survival…
“Second, I think that the record that Costa Rica set of 25 (presidential) candidates does not help. How much time is there to analyze the proposals, to listen to two or three candidates? How much time is there to listen to 25? It’s just overwhelming. I imagine that many people will have rather closed their eyes and said ‘My God, but what is this, how do I begin to identify the person for whom I would like to vote’.
“And the third element that I mention is covid. We are at the height of contagion, with many disabled people in the country and I am sure that many people did not go to vote because of the responsibility of not infecting other people.
“So, if you put together these three elements, which are a reality and highly differentiating from any other election, I can perfectly explain what the 40% abstention rate has been.
As what is in store between now and April 3, for the PLN candidate, he is expected to make an extraordinary to explain, participate, explain again and “give all the messages that I can give, breaking it down, reaching more granularity with respect to the work plan that we want to undertake and I will do it with respect for people, fully understanding that they are very busy almost with survival in these moments of crisis”.
Figueres added that abstentionism in the second round has always been greater than the first and on April 3 it will be no different.
However, the PLN candidate is positive that given that only two and not 25 candidates will be seeking the vote, the same number of people will come out to vote in the second, if not more.