Three imaginary political headlines from Costa Rica’s future

January 3, 2017
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With 2016 behind us, along with its tumultuous elections in several parts of the world, Costa Rica can look ahead to campaigns of its own this year leading up to the elections in early 2018. What’s in store?

Recent elections here have featured massive numbers of parties – so many that election organizers have struggled to fit them onto a debate stage, even in shifts – as well as candidates with little political experience and inflated expectations of change.

What might we expect if this trend continues in Costa Rica and a hugely popular non-politician were to enter the ring amidst a ballooning array of parties – say, the nationally beloved astronaut and scientist Franklin Chang-Díaz? (My apologies to Dr. Chang-Díaz, whose unparalleled stature makes him the ideal imaginary candidate for this flight of fancy.)

Let’s read a bit of fiction based on non-fictional elements of recent months and years.

Headline #1 – The Year 2018

The widely admired astronaut and scientist Franklin Chang-Díaz will be the candidate of one of the 134 political parties participating in the 2018 election. He announced his candidacy yesterday accompanied by the ten most upright, wise and brave citizens from each of Costa Rica’s cantons, who together form the perfect sample of what Costa Rican society is today, or thinks it is.

After many months of Costa Rican-style speculation and expectation, Chang-Díaz chose to throw his hat in the ring with the party known as “Cosmos” (Costarricenses Mosqueados) and the motto “Together, because why not?” The party is made up of 50% women, proportional representation for every ethnic group, rich and poor, fat and thin. There are even a Maltese cat and a fighting bull as candidates for the legislature in order to hook in key demographic segments, but they are waiting for the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to respond to a consultation from the Supreme Elections Tribunal.

The candidate launched his campaign in the National Stadium, filled to the brim with supporters – there were even pirated tickets, very a la tica. His triumph seems assured. His ideology is center-center-center and he promises not to spend even one dollar on his electoral campaign. He has even promised to answer all questions in a way that will leave every listener content. More than content: thrilled.

He has also proposed for his administration a complete moratorium on presidential travel, the victory of the National Team at the Russia 2018 World Cup, and daring yet wildly popular policies on all issues fiscal, social, economic or environmental, as well as in public safety and human rights. He will create a country so perfect that all jails will become greenhouses, police officers will offer free massages in the streets, and all pensions will equal those of Judicial Branch employees – but in a sustainable way. The Finance Ministry will hire cashiers just to handle the avalanche of voluntary tax payments. We’ll return to the traffic levels of the 1960s, but with 1.5 million cars. Pure magic. This is destined to be the greatest government in history: the most upright, wise and brave.

Homespun but infallible polls conducted yesterday afternoon gave Chang a victory with 100% of votes and six of 57 assembly seats, including one for the bull (the cat may be left out because it is not associated with any cultural traditions or end-of-year television ratings).

“But the Legislative Assembly doesn’t matter, anyway – it’s all about the president. We’ll have a president who walked on the moon. That’s the best,” said a lady named Dulce, who came from many miles away for the event without needing to be paid or given a free lunch. She cried from pure emotion.

Some analysts suggest electing Chang-Díaz immediately by acclamation, thus avoiding the torture of the electoral process, the Election Day dry law and a vote so lopsided as to awaken suspicions. Yesterday there were 128 presidential candidates who, upon the Cosmos announcement, decided to end their campaigns and join the astronaut. Five are left in competition, but only to keep up their habit of running every time there is an election, and to make a little money. Everyone wins in this scenario. It’s marvelous.

Headline #2 – The Year 2019

President Franklin Chang-Díaz has been ranked the worst president in the history of the continent in a study that aggregates polls from various countries. One year was enough for widespread euphoria to be replaced by total rejection because the president “doesn’t measure up,” according to citizens polled. This small Central American country has used up its last option in the array of heroic personalities capable of jumping into politics. The only politician now willing to run for president is the cat, which by the way has founded a new party called PUSI (the Social Individualist Unity Party).

Headline #3 – The Year 2021

A total of 26 politicians compete for the Presidency of the Republic in the 2021 elections. Of these, 25 have two or more previous presidential campaigns under their belts and have served as Cabinet ministers or national lawmakers. The 26th, a retired schoolteacher with no political experience, without a well-known name or any other financing than his retirement pay, says he is running only so that he can repeat in every debate and interview the idea that has been floating around in his mind for many months: “In this country, no one is worthy of me.”

Read more of Alvaro Murillo’s “No Sugar, Please” columns here.

Álvaro Murillo is an experienced journalist who specializes in political coverage and has written for La Nación, Semanario Universidad and El País. In “No Sugar, Please,” his twice-monthly column, he explores politics in its broadest terms, from the halls of government to community life. Connect with him on Twitter.

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