San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Voters Choose Divided Assembly

Thanks to the wide array of parties to choose from and voters’ tendency to split their vote, the Legislative Assembly that takes office in May will be the most divided legislature elected in the country’s history.

The results of the legislative elections will not be set in stone until the conclusion of the manual recount, but according to predictions made Tuesday by the daily La Nación based on official results from 84% of voting stations, the 2006-2010 assembly will be made up of 25 legislators from the National Liberation Party (four short of the 29-legislator majority presidential candidate Oscar Arias had hoped for), 18 from the Citizen Action Party (PAC), six from the Libertarian Movement and four from the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC).

The remaining four come from four smaller parties: the left-wing Broad Front; the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party (PASE), which seeks to represent people with disabilities and the elderly; the evangelical National Restoration Party; and the National Union Party (PUN), represented by former Ombudsman José Manuel Echandi.

The outgoing assembly – which returned to work Monday after a 45-day break – had the same number of parties represented (seven), but this fragmentation was created after the elections, when legislators broke away from their original parties to form the Patriotic Bloc and Authentic Heredian Party.

According to political analyst Rodolfo Cerdas, this varied assembly represents the division of Costa Rican society in favor of different ideologies. Besides the specific interests represented by some of the smaller parties, the two parties with most representation have differing stances on the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA). Liberation favors CAFTA, while PAC opposes the pact and favors its renegotiation.


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