Why Is Costa Rica Voting On Easter Sunday?

Costa Rica elections explained. Who's going to win?


Costa Rica has presidential elections every four years. The election is held in February, with the newly elected president taking office the following May 8.

More than 3 million Costa Ricans today will chose their new president: Carlos Alvarado (left) or Fabricio Alvarado (right)

In February’s election, if no candidate wins more than 40% of the vote, the two best performing candidate go head-to-head in a run-off election to be held weeks from the first round election.

If there should be a tie in the run-off election, the oldest of the two candidates will be declared winner and president.


A sitting president cannot run for consecutive office, he or she has to wait out one election cycle before running again.

The 2018 Election

On February 4, Fabricio Alvarado obtained 24.8% of the vote, while Carlos Alvarado – no relation – got 21.8%. The run-off election, in accordance with the rules, was set by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones de Costa Rica (Supreme Electoral Court of Costa Rica) – the tribunal that oversees the election – on April 1.

The favorite leading up to the general elections, the former Legislative Assembly President Antonio Alvarez Desanti, obtained only 18% of the vote.

The Voting

Today, April, a total of 3,322,329 Costa Ricans are registered to vote, of which 31,896 (22,384 in the U.S. alone) are voting outside the country.

Polls open at 6:00 am and close at 6:00 pm. The TSE is expected to provide the first results around 8:00 pm, with periodic updates during the evening as the votes get counted.

Given the closeness of the rate, it most likely won’t be until Monday when a winner expected announced.

Who’s going to win?

The two candidates are neck and neck in the polls. The latest polls have both candidates in a ‘technical tie’.

All we know for certain there will be an Alvarado declared the winner.

Fun Facts

  • This could be the closest vote in Costa Rica for decades.
  • One single vote could be the difference between winning and losing.
  • If there should be a tie, Fabricio Alvarado, who turns 44 on May 30 will have won over the 38-year-old (January 14) Carlos Alvarado.
  • If Carlos Alvarado wins he will be one the youngest (más güilas in Spanish) president in the history of Costa Rica; the record goes to José María Castro Madriz, who became president at age 29. The others, Rafael Iglesias was 31 and  Miguel Mora Porras was 33.
  • The Constitution now demands a president must be at least 35.
  • A President must be Costa Rican born.
  • The oldest president was Santos León Herrera, who assumed the presidency at 74 years, the curious thing about him is that he barely lasted 18 days in power, as he arrived in the middle of the war of 1948, his presidency lasted from April 20 – May 8. The second place for the oldest is for Abel Pacheco (2002 – 2006) who will be voting today in his district of Pavas, who came to power at age 69 and the third was Juan Bautista Quirós Segura (DOB January 18, 1853), who assumed the reins of the country at 66 and then only for two weeks, from August 13 to September 2, 1919.
  • For those who thought Oscar Arias Sanchez would be tops in that list, you are not alone, not so. Don Oscar became president for the second time on May 8, 2006, when he was only 65 years of age (his birthday September 13, 1940.