San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Poll Suggests Interest in Female President

NEARLY half of Costa Rican adultsare not interested in voting in the February2006 presidential elections… Of thosewho are interested, most would like to votefor a candidate who does not exist – awoman. Such are the results of a recentlypublished poll.The Unimer poll, published as a seriesin the daily La Nación, also suggest onlyabout 1 in 10 voters are totally decidedabout who they will vote for, and most ofthose would vote for former President andpresidential candidate Oscar Arias (1986-1990), of the National Liberation Party(PLN).According to the poll results, theabsentee rate could be as high as 44.2%,though that includes 12% of respondentswho “doubt” they will vote, but couldchange their minds.AMONG possible voters, 56 in every100 respondents said they would prefer tovote for a woman candidate, although, sofar, none has been announced. A recentlyformed Feminist Party will have candidatesfor the Legislative Assembly, but notthe presidency because of the way theparty was formed (TT, March 11).A much smaller proportion – 17% –said they would prefer a man and 26% saidthey have no preference for a man or awoman, according to the poll.The idea of a female President is mostpopular among women and people underage of 30.The poll also revealed 55% of potentialvoters said the formation of a newparty is necessary. That many also saidthey would vote for that party if it wereformed.AMONG the 11% who are totallydecided they will vote, 48% said theywould vote for Arias, 19% said they wouldvote for Citizen Action Party (PAC) candidateOttón Solis, 12% said they wouldvote for the to-be-determined candidate ofthe Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC),10% said they would for LibertarianMovement Party candidate Otto Guevaraand 11% said they would vote for “other.”As more voters who are not yet decidedor who may not vote are added, the supportfor Oscar Arias falls to 35% and supportfor the Unity candidate falls to 7%. Inthis situation, Union for Change candidateAntonio Álvarez candidate would receive8% of the vote and Patriotic Union PartyCandidate would receive 6% of the vote,according to the poll.If a candidate does not receive 40% ofthe first electoral round, a second roundwill be necessary, as was the case in 2002(TT, Feb. 8, 2002).ABSENTEEISM in the first round ofthe 2002 elections was 30.1% and in 1998was 30%.Political analyst Luis Guillermo Solístold The Tico Times it is still early to bejudging the election based on polls. Asmore propaganda hits the public, voterparticipation will increase as will supportfor specific candidates, he said.The Unity candidate will be decided inthe party’s convention June 30. LegislatorRicardo Toledo is the leader in the polls,followed by former Education MinisterGuillermo Vargas and EverardoRodríguez, former head of the NationalWater and Sewer Institute (AyA).The poll also revealed that the notionthat people don’t live where they vote andmust be transported by their party, as wastradition in Costa Rica’s history, is nolonger a reality.According to the poll, nine in 10 possiblevoters live in the same district wherethey vote. If this is extrapolated to the datafrom the Supreme Elections Tribunal(TSE), this would mean only 228,000 votersin the entire country would need to betransported.IN elections of the past, free busestransported voters from where they livedto where they could vote. These days,however, the computerized system at theTSE has simplified the process of reregisteringto vote near home.Under the electoral code, the statedoes not pay for this transportationexpense.The poll used a sample of 1,415Costa Ricans over the age of 17, whowere interviewed face-to-face. It wasconducted April 1-10 and claims a marginof error of 2.6%.

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