Swarmed by cameras, reporters and supporters, presidential frontrunner Luis Guillermo Solís of the opposition Citizen Action Party (PAC) arrived at the Liceo de Curridabat, east of the capital, Sunday morning to cast his vote for Costa Rica’s next president.
Vuvuzelas sounded and red-and-yellow flags waved outside as the historian and son of a shoemaker – who turns 56 on April 25 – marked his ballot in a simple blue-walled school room.
“Don’t kill me with love yet, there’s still much to do!” Solís told supporters. The PAC candidate is running almost unopposed after his second-round rival, Johnny Araya of the ruling National Liberation Party, stopped campaigning in a surprise decision on March 5.
Solís urged citizens to cast their ballots amid reports of low turnout at the polls early Sunday, seeming to roll back his pledge to garner 1 million votes to shore up his popular mandate.
“I’m not worried about getting a million votes or not. In a democracy you win with one vote,” he said. “I’m asking that those who haven’t voted, and it seems there are many according to my reports, to go and vote quickly in the coming hours. When the polling stations close at 6 this afternoon, we want the ballot boxes full of votes, full of hope.”
As recently as Saturday morning, Solís said he was confident he could accomplish the million-vote goal he set after Araya suspended his campaign last month.
The Supreme Elections Tribunal reported that 31.8 percent of voters stayed home for the Feb. 2 first round vote and suggested that the abstention rate could be higher Sunday, based on results from the last runoff in 2002.
Jeffery Navarro, a voter outside the school, told The Tico Times he came out to vote mostly out of a sense of civic duty. “Not every country has the right to vote,” he said.
Solís “is a break with traditional, normal politics. He’s closer to the people, to whom we are, the people who walk the streets, not those with bodyguards. We hope he doesn’t change his attitude,” Navarro said.
The candidate will await the results of the vote in Plaza Roosevelt in San Pedro, in eastern San José, on Sunday at 6 p.m.