Turnout low in Costa Rica elections

December 6, 2010

Sunday was mostly a quiet day, despite elections across Costa Rica to decide local mayors and other municipal officials. More than 72 percent of Costa Rica’s voters stayed home.

Still, it was a slight improvement over previous years (under 24 percent in 2006 and 23 percent in 2002).

“It’s a modest increase, but a significant one at the same time,” said Luis Antonio Sobrado, president of the Supreme Elections Tribunal.

“December is a month of distractions with the annual Christmas bonus, change of the seasons and other Christmas holiday events,” he said.

“Yet many Costa Ricans chose the correct path, which was to participate,” he said.

Compared to the presidential elections in February, in which 68 percent of the electorate turned out to vote, Sunday’s election was unmistakably quiet.

Evelyn Contraras, a poll judge working for the National Liberation Party (PLN), attributed the high absenteeism to a lack of campaign material in the streets. “But even when parties bring information to neighborhoods, people do little to become informed.”

As of 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, the PLN –  Costa Rica’s dominant political party – won 58 mayoral seats. The Social Christian Unity Party won in eight mayoral races, the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party won two, the Citizen Action Party won six, and the Libertarian Movement won three. Two local parties – Curridabat’s Siglo XXI and Escazú’s Yunta Progresista Escazúeña – also were victorious in their local mayoral races.

“Elections are like a national celebration for Costa Ricans, … [with] children, adults and seniors out in the streets and really enjoying the day,” said Marco Ruiz, who ran successfully for vice-mayor alongside José Manuel Ulate in central Heredia. “We are very happy with the response,”  

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