San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

PAC Still Proud After Bitter Defeat

The Citizen Action Party (PAC) has some work to do.

In Sunday’s presidential election, the left-leaning group’s founder and longtime leader, Ottón Solís, 55, garnered a mere 25 percent of the national vote. And his party lost five seats in the Legislative Assembly.

And for the third presidential election in a row, Solís bowed out with a concession speech.

“We ran an honest campaign,” Solís told supporters Sunday night. “We decided to tell the truth and not to accept the practice of using the finances of a few to fund a multimillion-dollar campaign.”

The results of Solís’ 2010 presidential bid are nowhere near as strong as those he registered four years ago when he came within 2 percentage points of defeating President Oscar Arias, of the National Liberation Party (PLN). Sunday’s loss, instead, was by 20 percentage points.

It could be a sign that PAC’s prevalence is slipping, or an indication that the PLN has successfully gained Costa Rica’s trust.

Or perhaps it is due to a surge on the right, where the Libertarian Movement Party (ML) has grown stronger in recent years.

Nonetheless, Solís said that PAC’s founding principles would be the foundation of the party’s future.

“We believe in our ideas,” Solís proclaimed. “We believe in the idea of eliminating corruption, the idea that Costa Rica’s farmers are the ones who feed us, the idea that public education should be changed and revolutionized and become a tool for upward social mobility, the idea that the environment should be protected … We have fought for these ideas and for an intense dialogue.”

Solís walked off the stage on Sunday night into the arms of his yellow-and-red-flag-waving followers, most of whom gave him a warm applause. The majority in attendance said they were grateful for what he had accomplished.

“We’ve always believed in him, and we still do,” said 25-year-old Anna Alpizar. “Like Solís said, it’s our responsibility to create a healthy dialogue for Costa Rica.”

Others, however, left frustrated with yet another failed presidential campaign.

“Each time I believe less in what he says,” said Kattia Sánchez. “I’ve always voted for him, and we never get anywhere. Maybe it’s time for this party to change its leadership.”

On Sunday, Solís told his crowd of boosters that the 2009/10 campaign was his last attempt for Costa Rica’s highest office.

Party press officials told The Tico Times that it is too soon to decide who will lead PAC in the next presidential campaign. The party is in a period of “restructuring and reflection,” officials said.

Until then, a calm, reflective Solís said that he would drift to the back of the PAC and support his successor.

“My time has come, but this party will move forward,” he concluded. “I will continue helping those who move forward. I will continue propelling these ideas so that other great members of this party will arise and lead this country.”

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