Costa Rica

Ruling party candidate drops out of Second Round Runoff


The ruling National Liberation Party’s (PLN) presidential candidate, Johnny Araya, announced yesterday afternoon that he was suspending his second round runoff campaign.

Johnny Araya Monge had taken 29.71% in the first round on 17th February and was facing Luis Guillermo Solís of the Citizens’ Action Party (PAC), who took 30.64% of the vote, in the second round on 6th April. They had defeated eleven other candidates to get to the second round but both failed to get the 40% of the vote needed to avoid a second round.

Mr Araya has taken the decision apparently because of poor opinion polls that suggest he would receive only 21% of the vote to Mr Solís’ 64% and a lack of funds for his campaign. The Tico Times quotes the PLN campaign manager, Antonio Álvarez Desanti, as saying “Today, National Liberation is ending this election campaign. People will show up at the polls, we believe a much smaller number, but we will not call on people to vote, nor will we deter anyone from voting [when] we understand that the result will be in favor of the Citizen Action Party.”

The constitution of Costa Rica does not allow for presidential candidates from dropping out of the poll as such, but Mr Araya will not spend any money on his campaign, will not actively campaign and is not calling on his supporters to vote.

This means that the poll will go ahead but Luis Guillermo Solís is almost certainly assured of a win. Unfortunately for him he will have to work with a fragmented Legislative Assembly with eight political parties represented. The National Liberation Party is the largest party in the Assembly with 18 of the 57 seats whilst the Citizens’ Action Party has 13 seats.

Luis Guillermo Solís (55) is an academic, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Michigan, and former diplomat and he represents a centre-left position. Solís was a member of the PLN until 2005 when he switched to the PAC. His campaign has focused on rebuilding Costa Rica’s economy, reducing the fiscal deficit and tackling social inequality. He has a strong message on education and support for small business. He is not in favour of the current government’s economic policy which looks to privatise government assets and is export driven.

You can find Luis Guillermo Solís’ manifesto here.

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