Non-career politician Luis Guillermo Solís wins Costa Rica presidential runoff in a landslide © The Tico Times 7 April 2014
Opposition candidate and former professor Luis Guillermo Solís easily won Sunday’s runoff election, ushering in Costa Rica’s first third-party candidate in 44 years.
Rallying at Plaza Roosevelt in San Pedro, east of San José, Solís of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) and red-and-yellow clad supporters cheered the results as the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) announced him the winner in a landslide with 77.8 percent of the votes to National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Johnny Araya’s 22.1 percent, with 96 percent of the votes counted Sunday night.
“More than one million Costa Ricans said ‘yes’ to change” today, the president-elect told an exuberant crowd of supporters. “No longer will corruption live in our country.”
Araya quickly conceded the race after the TSE released its initial count just after 8 p.m. showing Solís with more than 77 percent, with over 70 percent of the votes counted.
“After hearing the results of more than 77 percent of the polling centers, we must congratulate the president-elect of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís,” Araya said. “With humility we must recognize Costa Rican people’s clear and forceful will.”
Arguably, Araya had already conceded the race in March when he surprised his party followers by announcing he would stop campaigning after a disappointing showing in aUniversity of Costa Rica poll and dwindling campaign funds. Araya, 56 and a former mayor of San José, left Solís unencumbered to clinch Sunday’s vote.
Solís stressed that voter abstention would be his greatest challenge after Araya left the field, leading some analysts to wonder if low turnout would weaken his popular mandate. However, Solís exceeded his goal of 1 million votes, garnering just under 1.3 million – the most votes ever captured by a Costa Rican presidential candidate, according to Teletica. (Araya’s was the worst vote tally in PLN history.) Predictably, voter abstention remained higher than in the first round, at just over 43 percent compared to 31.8 percent on Feb. 2, according to the TSE. Still, at last count, Solís had managed to capture more votes than the number of voters who abstained, which also was just under 1.3 million.
“I’m overwhelmed with pride, confidence and [a sense of] security for the country,” PAC supporter Sylbell Bedoya, 58, told The Tico Times at Sunday night’s post-election rally. “[Solís] has brought back confidence to the country, to the Costa Rican people.”
Several PAC supporters waved brooms with red and yellow flags attached, signifying a sweep. Solís beat Araya in all seven Costa Rican provinces, and he even won in the former San José mayor’s own home town of Palmares by a margin of more than two to one.
“It’s a broom to sweep away pericos!” Feliz Salas, a 65-year-old teachers representative, told The Tico Times, referring to the small green birds associated with the ruling PLN. Read more on: http://www.ticotimes.net/2014/04/07/non-career-politician-luis-guillermo-solis-wins-costa-rica-presidential-runoff-in-a-landslide