San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Citizen Action Party Debates New Platform

CITIZEN Action Party, the country’sthird largest political party, has begun aseven-month nationwide discussion processthat will culminate with the drafting of theparty’s political platform for the 2006 presidentialand legislative elections.The process, known as the First CitizenCongress, began last month and will runthrough November.The goal of the congress is to giveCitizen Action’s members a chance to discussand debate the party’s stance on issuesof vital importance to the country and have asay in shaping its campaign platform,explained Ottón Solís, president of the party.“The pivotal goal of the congress is toupdate the party’s positions,” Solís said.“Obviously, our party platform will notdiffer from what is agreed to during thecongress.”CITIZEN Action has spent the pasttwo years preparing the congress, accordingto coordinator Patricia Allen, whoexplained the first phase will consist ofconsultation with the party’s base.“Citizen Circles” – discussion groupsmade up of three or more Citizen ActionParty members – will meet to discuss currentissues and the party’s original 21-point charter.The party hopes to establish at least onecircle in each of the country’s 411 districts.This phase will end this month, she said.Each circle will choose a member torepresent it during the regional phase ofthe congress. Citizen Action has dividedthe country into 18 different regions.Circle representatives will meet betweenAugust and October to discuss proposalsand name regional representatives for theparty’s National Assembly, scheduled totake place in November, Allen said.DURING the National Assembly,delegates will draft the new party platform.The party plans to make each phaseof the process as open and representativeas possible, she said.“We’re very interested, as the name ofour party implies, in doing this in a mannerthat allows participation,” Solís explained“This is basic for us. It’s not about a groupof intellectuals drafting a document. Theidea is to jointly build [the platform].”Solís is confident the congress willhelp strengthen Citizen Action.“OUR mission is to build a better country.A congress makes it possible for people,during the process of analysis and proposals,to absorb the party’s thoughts and contributetoward building it,” he explained.Founded in early 2001, CitizenAction Party, most commonly referred toas PAC, permanently changed the face ofCosta Rica’s traditionally bipartisanpolitical system.During the 2002 presidential elections,Solís came in third with 26% of the vote,prompting a historic second vote to declareAbel Pacheco winner with more than 40%of the vote, as required by the Costa RicanConstitution.During the 2002 legislative elections,Citizen Action won 14 of the LegislativeAssembly’s 57 seats (TT, Feb. 8, 2002).However, the party’s legislative faction wasreduced in February 2003, when six of itsdeputies broke away to form the PatrioticBloc (TT, Feb. 28, 2003).ALTHOUGH he has yet to officiallybegin a presidential campaign, Solís islikely to be the party’s candidate in 2006.Recent polls ranked him in secondplace after former President and NobelPeace Laureate Oscar Arias (1986-1990),who earlier this year announced he intendsto run for reelection (TT, March 19).

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