San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Deals Define Legislative Elections

AFTER a series of controversial political deals, congressional deputies on Saturday elected legislator Gerardo González, of the ruling Social Christian Unity Party, as president of the Legislative Assembly for the 2004-2005 term.“I’m committed to working to find points of equilibrium between the different political factions,” González said following his victory.He said his main priorities are the approval of the proposed Permanent Fiscal Reform Package and the Central America Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States.The legislative directorate, elected every May 1, is in charge of hiring personnel, receiving reform motions for bills and reports issued by legislative commissions and, most importantly, setting the legislative agenda.OF a possible 57 votes, González received 28 – 18 from Social Christian Unity, five from the Libertarian Movement, four from the Patriotic Bloc and one from Costa Rican Renovation deputy Carlos Avendaño.Three deputies – Aída Faigenzicht of Unity and Humberto Arce and Emilia Rodríguez of Patriotic Bloc – cast blank votes. Under Legislative Assembly voting rules, the blank votes were transferred to the candidate with the most votes, leaving González with 31 votes – two more than he needed.His nearest opponent, Sigifredo Aiza of National Liberation Party, received 17 votes – all from members of his party. Epsy Campbell of Citizen Action Party received eight votes – all from members of her party. Independent deputy José Francisco Salas received one vote – his own.TO secure the support the Libertarians, González agreed to a controversial request to discuss the opening of the Riteve SyC monopoly on the mandatory annual vehicle technical inspection, reduce wasteful spending by the Legislative Assembly and not create any new legislative commissions that include representatives of social sectors, particularly unions.“For us, the most important thing was to have a say in defining the legislative agenda that would allow us to promote change in the country,” explained Libertarian deputy Carlos Herrera.AVENDAÑO conditioned his support on being allowed to remain head of the Assembly’s Permanent Child-Welfare Commission.The four Patriotic Bloc deputies gave González their support in exchange for having one of their own – Juan José Vargas –elected Vice-President of the Assembly.As part of the agreements reached by this unlikely political alliance, Herrera and Mario Calderón of Unity were elected First and Second Secretary, respectively. Avendaño and Elvira Navarro of Patriotic Bloc were named First and Second Pro-Secretary (replacement secretary), respectively.

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