In true democratic style that could only happen in Costa Rica, on Tuesday, 11 of the 13 presidential candidates put aside rhetoric and their political differences to share a burger. No bodyguards. No stress. Just a fun time.
The unusual get together, rather party was held at the Burger King Parque de La Paz, that gave away 1,000 hamburgers.
The only one not to attend were Liberationist Antonio Alvarez Desanti, the candidate who was a shoe-in to win the elections on Feb. 4, but is now in 3rd place, according to the latest UCR poll published Tuesday morning; and the ‘Good Doctor’, Republicano candidate, Rodolfo Hernandez.
The 11 candidates played futbolín (table soccer), answered riddles, hugged each other and laughed, putting aside the negative news on the economy. As Costa Ricans say: “ardía el rancho” (the ranch was burning).
While the politicos of the country were hamming it up, Bloomberg revealed that Costa Rican dollar bonds plummeted, their value dropping in response to the morning poll placing Fabricio Alvarado, a candidate with a weak financial plan, in first place and in second, Trump-like candidate, Juan Diego Castro.
Alvarado obtained 17% of the popular support in the Center for Research and Political Studies (CIEP) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) poll, while Castro in second with 16% and Alvarez Desanti third with 11%. The others, candidates like Otto Guevara and Carlos Alvarado, scored like under 6% each in the polls, and the rest, well does it really matter?
None came even close to the 40% required for a win on election day. Voter apathy seems to reign in this election cycle.
Lower bond prices mean Costa Rica cannot raise as much cash it needs in the markets, forcing the government to take out bank loans, that could be denied, or pay higher interest rates that, finally, we all pay with more taxes.
The low confidence in the bond market could also mean fewer companies choosing Costa Rica for their manufacturing or services operations. A situation that could push unemployment up.
But what the heck, it was free burgers, the media and people and no stress. A timeout, if you will, for the candidates as they head for the home stretch.
Costa Ricans will go to the polls on Sunday, February 4. If neither candidate receives the required 40% of the popular vote, a run-off election between the top two contenders will take place in April.
The newly elected president will take office at noon on May 8, 2018, a week after current president Luis Guillermo Solis gives his final state of the government report to the legislative assembly and thus the people of Costa Rica.
Sources: La Teja; La Nacion, Telenoticias; Crhoy.com; and others