San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Leading Parties Forge Political Agreement

Incoming legislators of two of the country’s leading political parties are not letting their policy plans get strangled by opposition.

Even before their official swearing-in ceremony, congress members from the National Liberation Party and the Libertarian Movement have signed a nine-page agreement, promising action on a slew of initiatives, from breaking Riteve’s monopoly on motor vehicle inspection to regulating online gambling.

“Our obligation during the campaign was to emphasize our differences,” said President-elect Laura Chinchilla during the signing of the agreement. “But when the elections passed, the priority was to emphasize our (areas of agreement).”

The two parties form a powerful force in the legislative assembly. Their combined total of 33 legislators is enough for the simple majority needed to push important projects through. However, they are slightly short of the 38 votes required to pass some bills.

The two parties have given themselves two years to fulfill the agreement’s goals, promising to meet monthly in order to discuss progress.

The agreement addresses a host of issues, including fighting crime by strengthening municipal police, increasing punishments for small crimes, and adding a chapter to the penal code regarding organized crime. It calls for greater international integration within the framework of the recently signed free trade agreements with China and Singapore, and seeks to improve border processes and to increase trade in the Central American region. The agreement also encourages the executive branch to take on certain initiatives such as increasing student access to computers, publishing a list of social aid recipients, and improving transparency.

Former presidential candidate Otto Guevara said, “I don’t see any reason that this agreement shouldn’t go into effect in its entirety.”

The Citizen Action Party, which lost six seats in the assembly this year, was invited to participate, but declined.

–Chrissie Long

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