In a crucial precursor to the 2010 national elections, the two biggest political parties have elected local leaders.
The Citizen Action Party (PAC) elected representatives to a National Assembly, which ratifies all major party decisions and chooses candidates for the Legislative Assembly, Costa Rica’s legislative body. PAC’s assembly will first meet Feb. 7 to choose new party leaders and revise party rules.
The National Liberation Party (PLN), less far along in a process that is similar for all parties, elected leaders on a district level.
Those leaders will then choose leaders for each canton, who will chose provincial leaders, who will choose representatives to the party’s National Assembly.
PLN’s four presidential hopefuls visited voting booths, and one, San José mayor Johnny Araya, brought cake and Coca-Cola to the party headquarters in La Sabana.
Araya faces a tight race against former Vice President Laura Chinchilla, according to recent polls, while the dark horses include former Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal and former Culture Minister Carlos Francisco Echeverria. PLN’s candidate will be elected in an open primary in early June.
PAC’s likely presidential candidates, Epsy Cambell and Ottón Solís, traveled the country last weekend to meet provincial leaders who were choosing representatives to the National Assembly. Campbell, now the president of PAC, would become Costa Rica’s first black president, as well as its first female president.
The party has never held a primary because Solís has been the sole candidate since the party was founded in 2000. The National Assembly will likely set rules for a primary when it meets next month.