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Second round!
Updated feb. 4 2002

Major presidential candidates

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No winner in sunday's election

PUSC: 38.52% PLN: 30.96% PAC: 26.32% ML: 1.67% ABST: 30.83%

For the first time in history, costarricans went to sleep without knowing who their president would be... and woke up without knowing who their president would be.

Although Abel Pacheco of the PUSC managed a majority of votes in the election, he was unable to raise the 40% of votes required by the constitution. Result? The election cannot be considered valid and a second round must be held.

How it works:

Never seen before by the new generations in the voting process was the rise of Ottón Solís and his party (Partido Acción Ciudadana) to 26.32% of votes. The PAC was, until this election, a minority party, and could have expected around 5% of votes maximum (Movimiento Libertario, the other major minority player in the process, reached 1.67%). However Solís rose and gave the major players, especially the PLN, a run for their money at the last minute. It's rumored that had the PAC not existed, the election might have gone to Araya.

The rise of the PAC is due to several factors, the most important being popular discontent with major political parties. When the PAC started its campaign, promising a clean candidate, with nothing to hide, and who had spawned from one of the major political parties (PLN), many were quick to change sides, even if just to "get back" at the major players.

Major Political Parties and Candidates:

The 2002 election now revolves around 2 political parties for april 7th:

Rolando Araya/Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN)

Araya is an engineer and has run for president in 2 previous occasions. Both times he was eliminated in the internal PLN election and didn't make it to candidate. In 2001 he received candidate status after defeating Jose Miguel Corrales and Antonio Alvarez.

Araya is favored by several important political figures in Costa Rica's history such as Luis Alberto Monge (president responsible for bringing Costa Rica out of the 1980s economic crisis) and Oscar Arias (Nobel Peace Prize winner). He has shown himself as a centered candidate, with clear ideas and proposals on what the necessary course of action is during the presidential debates.

He is criticized often for supposed involvement with Ricardo Alem, an international drug trafficker extradited to the US and sentenced to prison. The accusations circle around the fact that when Alem was arrested, the drug he was carrying was supposedly wrapped in banners and posters publicizing Rolando Araya. Although the accusations surface from time to time, judicial authorities have clearly stated that the accusations are false and Araya has no involvement in the case.

Abel Pacheco/Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC)

Pacheco is a Psychiatric medic who is famous in Costa Rica for having a TV spot for over 25 years, broadcasted on many of the major TV stations. The 5 minute spot, titled "Comentarios con el Dr. Abel Pacheco" ran after news broadcasts and featured mainly discussions and comments on scientific and self improvement issues.

The TV spot earned him wide recognition among the costarrican public, and Pacheco's campaign has been oriented towards using that recognition to form an image of a kind, people's candidate.

Pacheco is severely criticized by rivals for his incapacity to show clear ideas and objectives, and his continous use of stories and deviation from topic to avoid clearly stating his intentions. His lack of ideas and clear answers has been noted during the presidential debates, and even Pacheco has admitted that in certain areas (economics mainly) he has absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.

Apart from his lack of ideas, Pacheco has received heat from political critics, who attack Miguel Angel Rodriguez' current administration, stating that the PUSC has shown itself to be a disasterous alternative during this term, unable to maintain economic stability and to complete basic necessary reforms and projects.

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