San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Candidates Seek New Alliances For 2006 Presidential Race

• EverardoRodríguez, formerpresidential pre-candidatefor the SocialChristian Unity Party(PUSC), has left theparty and joined formerOmbudsmanJosé Manuel Echandiin the National UnionParty (PUN). Theparty seems to have been the backup planfor both politicians – Echandi became thePUN presidential candidate only after legislatorsdid not reelect him as ombudsman,and Rodríguez joined after PUSCpulled away the welcome mat for hispresidential aspirations by makingRicardo Toledo its official candidate.• Citizen Action Party (PAC) leadersannounced last week that they do not wantto make any political alliances for theFebruary 2006 elections. Patriotic UnionParty (UP) presidential candidate JoséMiguel Corrales has proposed a coalition toface election front-runner Oscar Arias, whomany Costa Ricans say will be carried tovictory by his past popularity as a NobelPeace Prize winner and former President(1986-1990), PAC president EpsyCampbell, who rivals Arias in political popularityaccording to polls, told the daily LaNación PAC already has its own politicalagenda and candidate – Ottón Solís – andhas no time to make alliances.• After the PAC announcement,Corrales continued insisting on analliance, saying it is the only way todefeat Arias and the Central AmericanFree-Trade Agreement with the UnitedStates (CAFTA), which Arias supportsbut Corrales and PAC do not. UPfounder Humberto Arce even resignedfrom the party he founded so as not topresent any obstacles to an alliance(Arce was formerly a member of PAC,but split from the party on bad terms,taking some members with him).• Candidates are wise to focus theircampaigns on youth – Arias with cellphone campaigning and Ricardo Toledoby promising computers to high-schoolgraduates – because 41% of voters are age17-33, according to the SupremeElections Tribunal. None were of votingage during Arias’ first campaign.Nonetheless, studies show that youngpeople are likely to have the highestabsentee rates, the daily La Repúblicareported.• A legislative commission hasapproved a bill to charge a ¢600 ($1.25)toll on the Taiwanese Friendship Bridgeover the Tempisque River, on the way tonorthern Guanacaste, in order to covermaintenance of the bridge. The bill muststill be approved in full legislative session.• President Abel Pacheco announcedWednesday he will fly in business classon “doctor’s orders” during a forthcomingofficial visit to Japan. Pacheco started flyingtourist class following a controversyin June regarding free flights he hadaccepted in violation of an anti-corruptionlaw (TT, June 3). However, he saidWednesday that a cramped seat on thelong flight to Japan, which will be paidfor by the airline, could cause him to havecirculation problems because of his highblood pressure, which has landed him inthe hospital several times during hisadministration.

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