Lawmakers face showdown as they select new officers

Barack Obama faces a Republican controlled House of Representatives in the United States. Soon President Laura Chinchilla may face a legislature controlled by opposition parties.

A coalition of five opposition parties has emerged. If the 31 legislators stay united, they have the votes to name a new president of the Asamblea Legislativa and other leaders.

The parties are the Partido Acción Ciudadana, Unidad Social Cristiana, Movimiento Libertario, Partido Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión and the single legislator of Frente Amplio. The fragile coalition ranges from the far left (Frente Amplio) to the right (Movimiento Libertario), but they seem unified in their opposition to the Chinchilla tax plan and other administration initiatives.

The current legislative president is Luis Gerardo Villanueva, a member of Ms. Chinchilla’s Partido Liberación Nacional. He is seeking reelection and can count on the 24 votes of his party. Two lawmakers, one from Partido Restauración Nacional and the other from Partido Renovación Costarricense, are likely to side with Liberación. The victor needs 29 votes or just over half of the 57-member chamber

Control of the legislature means control of the assignments of bills to committees and the makeup of those committees, among other powers. May 1 is the traditional date each year when the legislature elects its leadership.

The opposition lawmakers met Monday to sketch out the three-year pact. Liberación leaders as sure to focus in on one or more of the opposition parties in an effort to create their own winning coalition.

A year ago Liberación supported the government slate.

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